In light of the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Inclusivity Week, the body joined with the Black Student Union (BSU) to discuss the state of race relations on Elon University's campus. On Thursday evening, SGA and BSU held a town hall forum for an open conversation discussing race.
A topic thoroughly discussed throughout the forum was the feeling of exclusion of minority groups on campus. Phrases like “microaggressions” and “sense of belonging” were repeated as the students expressed themselves.
Derrick Luster, president of BSU, led the forum by making sure everyone knew they were here to listen, understand and respect each other's words.
“We went into this year with a real initiative on improving inclusivity,” Luster said. “We figured a start with that would be understanding how race relations affect people.”
Many students spoke about their personal experiences regarding racism on campus. Some expressed feeling unsafe in their dorms and safer at places like the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education (CREDE) and El Centro.
Victoria Phillips, co-chair of the Student Inclusive Campus Committee and SGA member, helped organize Inclusivity week. She said the goal of the meeting was to find a better way for Elon students to understand each other and to create a more inclusive environment.
“The BSU was able to get so many different people, backgrounds and races,” said Phillips. “You can’t have this conversation from one side.”
Luster closed on the question, “What does racial justice, reconciliation and inclusion look like to you at Elon?”
Students said they hoped Elon students will have more respect, better relationships and more involvement in organizations on campus that promote diversity. Many students said Elon needs to be a safe and special place for everyone, starting with the student body.
Luster hopes the important race relations discussion will have a domino effect on the rest of the student body.
“I hope that the people who attended this take what they learn here and apply it to their other organizations and their friend groups, so that people who weren’t here can get this information,” Luster said.