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Students at sit-in recount stories of discrimination and hate


Senior Calvin Sanders tells students to take their momentum to go out and fix what they know is wrong. The Black Student Union at IU organized a sit-in Thursday at the Herman B Wells Library to discuss microaggressions, which are statements regarded as subtle discrimination. Peter Talbot Buy Photos

A sit-in by the Black Student Union at IU at the Herman B Wells Library on Thursday night asked students to share microaggressions they have experienced on campus. Students recounted stories of discrimination, hate and ignorance.

“This is not a movement — yet,” Black Student Union President Calieel Muhammad said.

Muhammad said the event was planned far in advance and had nothing to do with the stereotype-invoking Snapchat story posted earlier in the week by an IU student.

“It’s not a protest at all,” Muhammad said. 

Students met at 7:15 p.m. in a lecture hall in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center before walking over to the library. Between 160 and 200 students attended the event.

When junior Carrington Smith was a freshman, he said he was called the “N-word,” from the window of a car on Seventh Street while he was on his way to IU Late Nite. Walking through campus more recently, Smith noticed a white woman lock her car doors as he went by.

Other microaggressions included junior Janei Griffin's correct answers being ignored by her classmates while working together in a physiology lab.  

Another student, sophomore Savion Purnell, was one of two black presidents of Eigenmann Hall last year. He said he was told there were too many black presidents by a student on his floor. 

Another student suggested to a faculty member of an all-white scholarship panel that they should have a person of color on the board. The student said the faculty member responded by saying he wanted to live in a world where that didn’t matter. The student said he thought it did matter.

Stanley Njuguna, a junior, stood up and spoke for more than two minutes about fighting racism on campus. 

“As long as we keep reacting and requiring that the administration do whatever that they can to ensure that little Sally, or whoever, won’t say something racist, I think we’re fighting a losing battle,” Njuguna said.

Njuguna, wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, called for Jordan Hall and the Ora L. Wildermuth Intramural Center to be renamed due to beliefs their namesakes had. 

He also proposed structural changes to the administration, citing a lack of black representation at IU. As of fall 2017, only 5.2 percent of students at IU-Bloomington are African American, according to a report from IU’s Office of University Institutional Research and Reporting. This percentage does not include international students or students who identify as two or more races.

He also proposed requiring the University to publish proof of improvement on its recruitment and retention of tenured-track faculty of color. He also called for an annual increase in the number of black students at IU. 

His speech was followed by cheers and applause. “Keep going,” one man yelled. 

Senior Calvin Sanders later said students should take their momentum and go out and fix what they know is wrong.

“We are not asking for special treatment,” Sanders said. “Frederick Douglass said that there is no negro problem in the United States, there is a issue, a crisis and a problem of will. Will the United States live up to its own promises? He was speaking nationally, but let's bring it home, let's bring it here. Will Indiana University live up to its promise?”

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