Students plan future of solidarity

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Nicole Caporaso

Several Appalachian State University students remain dedicated to their fight for social justice as the spring semester begins, with one of the next steps being seven students attending a conference at the University of Arizona Jan. 15-17.

Mary Lyons, senior art education major and one of the students attending the Black Life Matters conference, started a www.gofundme.com page asking for donations with the goal of $2,000 to help offset the rough cost of $5,000 for the students. As of press time, there have been $240 in donations via the page.

Additional funding, aside from the money the students attending will personally contribute and donations, has come from university sources, including the Office of Multicultural Student Development, the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership and the Office of Student Research, Lyons said.

Lyons said as the funding numbers continue to change, the group does “not want to let classism cloud us to being able to be inclusive.” She also said getting funding has been an unacceptable battle.

“Different administrators have made comments to make it seem like [they’re] just going to make this as difficult as possible in hopes that you go away,” Lyons said. “And when you’re talking about race and some esisted on this campus as being a problem that is being dealt with, it’s very harmful for efforts like this that will be so beneficial to this campus, to not be embraced as wholeheartedly as they should.”

According to blacklifemattersconference.com, the conference will be multi-faceted and will include various types of activities including lectures, hands-on working sessions, arts and performances and social justice actions.

Victor Moore, a senior graphic design major and conference attendee said he would personally like to learn ways to combat racism, not only on Appalachian’s campus, but also abroad.

Moore said to be able to go somewhere that’s not a predominantly white institution and have a conference shows that it is a relevant issue for it to be as big as it is at the University of Arizona.

“I think the fact that we’ve committed to going already and that we’ve gone outside and gotten extra funding, will show the administrators here and the people here how important the issue is and that it’s a relevant issue,” Moore said. “We will go above and beyond to make sure it is known that it’s a relevant issue.”

Rachel Clay, a senior women’s studies major and upcoming attendee said she is honored to go to the conference as an ally and will exercise what she has learned upon returning.

“I’m trying to understand language to use as an ally to combat racism at our school and a lot of it will be listening, Clay said. “Especially at App State, I may be listened to more as a white person because it isn’t personal to me. I will be able to use my privilege more effectively in gaining terminology and history of race, and I’ll be able to share that with other students here at App.”

These same students, among others, attended a meeting on Tuesday evening, regarding the future of ASU in Solidarity.

As for increasing the numbers of non-caucasian students on-campus and improving race relations, Lyons said it is not the job of the students, but is a responsibility of the university.

“We pay them to do the job of improving student life, and by and large, as a system, they’re failing,” Lyons said.

Possible plans for the semester will be taken in three steps: education, action and administration. Possibilities include partnering with other student organizations, creating posters, brochures or fliers, race workshop series and possibly petitioning administration for a social justice category of general education.

“The Mountaineer family is a myth and we need to take steps to make it one,” Lyons said. “The culture and climate of this university is that if it’s not a burning issue we’re dealing with, we’re not going to talk about it.”

Story: Nicole Caporaso, Senior News Reporter