Candlelight ceremony continues the fight for change


Black and students of color at RWU

Students gathered in front of the University Library for a candlelight ceremony to honor Black lives lost on Sept. 30.

Rachel Dvareckas, Managing Editor

More than 60 students gathered in front of the University Library to continue the fight for change on campus last night, attending a candlelight ceremony to honor and respect Black lives lost. The event was organized by Black students and students of color, and hosted by junior Melissa Calvo Vides, who also organized the Black Lives Matter protest on Sept. 16.

Calvo Vides shared her frustration with the university and their lack of prompt action for students of color on campus.

“If we protest, they don’t hear us. If we do it peacefully, they don’t hear us. If we make petitions, they don’t hear us,” Calvo Vides said. “What are we supposed to do?”

She wants to see the Counseling Center employ counselors that can understand what students of color are dealing with. She also emphasized that people in power need to make the change because there is only so much the students can do.

“We are not asking for handouts. We are asking for our needs to be met,” Calvo Vides said.

LED candles were handed out and followed by a moment of silence for students to reflect on everything that has happened to them personally and in society. It was an opportunity to pay respects to those who have lost their lives because they were Black, as well as reflecting on students’ own feelings.

Crowd members were encouraged to speak about their experiences and feelings as well. One student shared his experience in a classroom where a professor repeatedly used a slur and thought it was okay to do so. The student demanded campus-wide bias training, something residential assistants have to go through.

Sophomore Daniel Pabon also spoke during the event. He shared his experience in a class as the only student of color. His class was talking about injustice and his classmates said there was no such thing as white privilege. Pabon spoke up in that class and told his peers that it is real and he has experienced it firsthand, including how he is scared when confronted by police, but his white friends never have that fear.

Calvo Vides shared messages of support for students of color, saying there is a community that cares about them at the university. The event ended with Calvo Vides reminding the crowd that there will be more events like this to demand change from the university until necessary changes are made.

“I can’t change what is happening in America, but I can change what is happening in my community right now,” Calvo Vides said.