SGA External Affairs Committee releases statement behind students met with conservative protests

Emily Broyles, Reporter

SGA External Affairs Committee released a statement Wednesday in solidarity with App State students who were met with protests from a conservative group at a “post-election solidarity event” Nov. 6. 

The committee wrote students were “intimidated by white supremacist chants” and “Trump 2020” and “blue lives matter” flags flown next to the event on Sanford Mall

“Black lives matter, now and forever. It is imperative that POC students have a voice not only on campus but in the Boone community, and that their voice is amplified … Blatantly violent expressions of white supremacy will not be tolerated on this campus,” the statement read. “Again, the voices of minority students, specifically Black students during this time, matter, and the External Affairs Committee stands with them.”

SGA Senator Maria McDowell authored the statement after the committee discussed the events of Nov. 6 in their group chat and saw Snapchat stories and other posts on social media  from the day. 

Seeing those posts, I wasn’t surprised, but I was really upset,” McDowell wrote in an email. “Nobody should feel their life being threatened, no student should feel unsafe on a campus that they pay to be on, especially when it claims to be a diverse learning institution. That is just unacceptable.” 

The committee stands with Black students, queer Black students and “all POC and minority students.” The committee says it will continue advocating for diversity and inclusion on campus through encouraging a more diverse faculty and staff, including administrative staff. 

McDowell said she wanted to emphasize white supremacist condemnation and that “Black lives matter… period,” in the statement. She said she was displeased with the university’s lack of response, saying their silence is “equally as unsafe as the hate speech.”

“We are with you in this fight. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you would like to voice any concerns, or if you are in need of any kind of support,” the statement read. “We are here for you. You are seen and you are heard. Once again, you are not alone, we stand with you. Black. Lives. Matter.” 

Jenn Bahn, SGA multicultural affairs chair, said the election shouldn’t make people feel less-than or intimidated. She said the committee wants to keep a local conversation going about discrimination.

“A lot of people don’t realize it’s still a huge problem, especially in Boone where people are very inclusive and very accepting. There are still some people who aren’t,” Bahn said.

Student Body President Michael Davis said while SGA wants free speech, “we’re going to side with our students” when it comes to safety on campus. 

“I don’t think, at least for me, that was not an exchange of ideas and got very very tense,” Davis said. “People like me have your back, and I know SGA has your back.”

Davis encourages students to reach out to SGA and wants them to know SGA is advocating for them. He also pushes students to “take a little bit of a step back from everything,” and try their best to focus on the end of the semester. 

“At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing,” Davis said. “I don’t want anyone to let anything impact their academics.”

The statement was also sponsored by Cabinet members Zane Johnson,Victoria Moreno,Victor Melo, Korbin Cummings, Devin Mullins, Cameron Hunter, Bailey Gardin, Alexandra LaRocca and Adam Zebzda.