Black Lives Matter protest demands change on campus

Protestors+marched+together+from+the+Field+House+to+the+front+of+the+library+and+demanded+change+from+the+university%27s+administrators+and+faculty.+

Rachel Dvareckas

Protestors marched together from the Field House to the front of the library and demanded change from the university’s administrators and faculty.

Rachel Dvareckas, Managing Editor

Chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “no change, no peace” could be heard throughout campus in a two-hour long peaceful protest held on Sept. 16. Students, faculty and staff members, including President Miaoulis and other administrators, gathered together in a socially distanced group of more than 80 members of the RWU community. The group marched from the front of the Field House to the D’Angelo Commons, where a microphone and speaker were set up on the steps of the library. Students held signs with various messages, like “BLM” and “end racism” to express their support for the protest.

Junior Melissa Calvo Vides organized the event, in collaboration with members of the Barbershop Club, Black Living Learning Community (LLC) and Africana Student Coalition.

“When I say Black Lives Matter, I mean my life,” Calvo Vides said before the crowd.

Calvo Vides urged crowd members to speak and students were given the opportunity to share their own stories and experiences. Around 15 students spoke to the group, delivering powerful speeches that touched on racism, police encounters and growing up in the Black community. Common themes of injustice were brought up as well as the benefits and relationships gained from the Black LLC on campus.

Demands were made for the school to establish equity for all students on campus. Students thanked faculty and staff who showed up but asked them to do something about the racial divide found on campus and push for change. They also demanded the university expand its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion division to properly meet the needs of the students. Students also want to expand the safe spaces for students of color outside of the Intercultural Center, Multicultural Student Union (MSU) and the Black LLC.

“We are stronger together,” said student speaker Carlos Ferman, repeating a phrase used multiple times throughout the protest.

A candle-lighting ceremony followed the speaking portion of the event, to honor and mourn Black lives. Crowd members were given candles which they held for a moment of silence. Calvo Vides listed names of Black people who have been killed by police or others in America, such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

As the protest neared its end, the group marched back to the Field House chanting “Black Lives Matter,” with Calvo Vides saying this event will not be the last.

“Change is not a one-time thing,” Calvo Vides said.

Protestors marched together from the Field House to the front of the library and demanded change from the university’s administrators and faculty. (Rachel Dvareckas)
Students held signs with Black Lives Matter messages as they chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “no change, no peace.” (Rachel Dvareckas)