[Source: OSU's Daily Barometer, March 12, 2014]

Solidarity March raises awareness, joins community against hate

Oregon State University students, faculty and staff gathered at the Pride Center Wednesday afternoon for a march across campus, representing solidarity against discrimination. 

“This is the message we are trying to promote here, this is important to students,” said march coordinator Anderson DuBoise. “It’s a chance to change the culture of campus.”

The march was organized in light of recent acts of racial discrimination on campus, including a note of hate speech delivered to the Women’s Center and racist graffiti on bathroom walls.

“We have to feel safe and validated in our community,” said Justin McDaniels, one of the coordinators of the “I, Too, Am OSU” campaign. “We call OSU home for four or more years.” 

The essence of a strong community is solidarity between people of color, race, ethnicity and gender identity. 

At campus cultural centers along the march, starting at the Pride Center and ending at the Native American Longhouse, students shared stories of their experiences with discrimination. 

Stories of hateful speech, hurtful assumptions, blocked opportunity and false belonging were common at every stop. The stories were met with cheers of support, followed by a moment of silence at each cultural center.

“It’s good we are starting this dialogue,” said junior in public health and Women’s Center employee Mimi Benafel. “Now we can create change.”

Several spoke of how much farther society should be from such acts of discrimination in 2014.

“We shouldn’t let our colors tear us apart, but let them blend into a beautiful rainbow,” Benafel said. 

The march was focused on solidarity against discrimination and people from all corners of campus came to show their support. 

“We need to recognize our actions and how we affect each other,” Benafel said. “Let’s always have this community backing us up.”

The strong chants, like “We ,too, are OSU” and “Ain’t no power like student power because the student power don’t stop,” united voices and turned heads. 

“I want to show support for the people of color here, and send a message that racist acts and comments are not what we want at OSU,” said senior in sociology Kiah McConnell.

President Ed Ray was among the chanting crowd. He said he was compelled to support this student movement. 

“I’m here because I believe what they believe,” Ray said. 

Ray said individuals committing discriminatory acts can’t be ignored, and they should never been empowered. 

“We can’t let idiots tell us how to conduct ourselves,” Ray said. “We can’t just let it pass.” 

He supported the march and the represented unity of the OSU community.  

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be strong in the face of ugly, cowardly acts,” Ray said. 

Ray’s decision to join the students was validating to the marchers who believe that speaking up can make a difference.

“We are lucky OSU takes our voices seriously,” McDaniels said. 

The campaign “I, Too, Am OSU” can be found on Facebook, and will be hosting more forums against discrimination and in support of unity.  

There will be a “Women of Color” dialogue Thursday in the Kerr Administration Building from 3-5 p.m. in the Career Services Classroom B008, and an “#ITooAmOSU Dialogue for Anti-Racist Allies” will be in Marketplace West Dining Center’s large east conference room from 3:30-5 p.m. Friday.


Emma-Kate Schaake
City reporter
Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 6:05 pm | Updated: 10:39 am, Thu Mar 13, 2014.
Original site: http://www.dailybarometer.com/news/we-too-are-osu/article_a3006404-aa4b-...