By David Villegas
Black Student Union hosts a panel discussion on social justice
The Black Student Union, alongside 10 other student organizations and the University President Ali Malekzadeh, held a panel discussion about fighting for social justice on campus.
Brittney Austin, who is the acting Vice President for Black Student Union and will be the President for next year, said she felt it a necessity to organize this event.
“It was our way of responding to the defaced flyer in a positive way. Inherently, it could’ve been any other minority group on campus that could have experienced this as well. Your Struggle Is My Struggle was a call to action to show that though we are perpetuated by different pre-conceived notions and stereotypes, solidarity and support for each other (both from the students and faculty) on this campus is a necessity to tackling these issues,” Austin said.
She then said how she felt that the event was successful.
“Myself as the rest of the collaborators thought the event was very successful! Though there were some people both in the audience and on the panel who didn’t agree with what was being said at all times, I think everyone’s thoughts were respected and heard,” Austin said.
She said that listening is the most important aspect to tackling any issue and is hoping we can have more people can attend for next year’s panel discussion.
She also added that she hopes to collaborate with even more organizations for this event next year.
Malekzadeh, who gave an opening statement at the event, was glad to participate in this event.
“I was invited to give an opening statement by the BSU, and I was glad to do it. When one student is hurt by inconsiderate or hurtful act of others, I am available to explain to everyone how to continue to improve diversity and inclusion for all of our students, faculty, and staff. Everyone has to feel safe at Roosevelt,” Malekzadeh said.
He also added, “As the president, I am just one of many dedicated faculty and administrative staff whose job is to continue to promote social justice at RU.”
Nathanial Stoll, who is the President of the Student Government Association, felt that the SGA needed to be in this event.
“SGA participated in this event because we felt that as the representatives of the student body it is part of our duty to ensure that we stand in solidarity with the affinity groups on campus to speak out against hatred on our campus,” Stoll said.
Adam Schalke, who is the treasurer of the SGA, gave examples of how SGA honors the mission of social justice at Roosevelt.
“… For example, members of SGA went down to Springfield back in February to lobby state legislators for MAP grants and higher education funding in order to help students in need not only at Roosevelt, but all across Illinois. I would say that a lot of the work that SGA does is done in meetings with faculty and administrators at Roosevelt, and as a result of that we might not look particularly active on campus, but we’re always working to make sure that Roosevelt is fair, equitable, and safe for all of its students, no matter which backgrounds they identify with,” Schalke said.