Everts meeting with students: what happened


Senior art education major Mary Lyons speaks to fellow HB2 protestors about their plans of occupying BB Dougherty Administration Building and what they want to hear from Chancellor Everts. Photo by Dallas Linger.

Tommy Culkin

During the student occupation of BB Dougherty Administration Building in protest against House Bill 2, Chancellor Sheri N. Everts met with student leaders to discuss what steps Appalachian State University can take moving forward to make the school a safer, more inclusive place.

Everts met with Carson Rich, the current president of the Student Government Association; Jalyn Howard, next year’s Student Government Association president; and Tori Walters, one of the organizers of the HB2 protest.

One of the main issues raised was that Everts needed to be more outspoken against the bill, because many of the protesters felt like she was too neutral in her initial statements regarding HB2.

“We felt like she could have done a lot more to speak out against it, and assure students that the bigotry represented in the bill would not be tolerated at App State,” Walters said. “When you are neutral in situations of injustice, you are tacitly taking the side of the oppressor.”

Following the meeting, Everts apologized to the student body, and assured them that although it was not her intent to appear neutral, she understood how her words could have been construed as such.

Rich believes that the misunderstanding about Everts’ position results from a failure to understand intentionality.

“Students really need to hear from the chancellor, and that’s what we stressed to her,” Rich said. “She can send out an email, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the students are going to believe her or even know if she cares if they can’t put a face to the name.”

Another thing that was discussed in the meeting was granting amnesty for the students and faculty who were a part of the occupation.

Walters said a big priority was making sure that there wouldn’t be penalties for the students who occupied BB Dougherty or the faculty who assisted them. Everts agreed.

Another thing that was decided upon was that Everts would have regular meetings with minority groups on campus to better understand their experiences and perspective.

Everts has already met with members of the LGBT community.

Another topic during the meeting was improving the diversity of Appalachian’s faculty.

According to Howard, there are currently no counselors in Appalachian’s Counseling Center who are persons of color. Howard said Everts assured them that she is currently looking to rectify that problem.

Also addressed in the meeting was the gender neutral bathrooms. Restrooms which were originally designated as being for disabled people have recently been relabelled as “gender neutral,” which Howard said messes up intersectionality.

“What she’s basically doing is going along with whatever issue is trendy at the moment, and that’s not okay,” Howard said.

Howard hopes that opening up dialogue with the chancellor was a positive first step that will lead to positive changes at Appalachian State.

“[Everts] said that she’s going to do these things, and we believe her,” Howard said. “That’s why it’s so important that we will have these follow up meetings, so we can continue working to make App a better place.”

Story by Tommy Culkin, Senior News Reporter