Racial issues spark protests at Georgia Southern

Jozsef Papp and Kurt Halon

The NAACP chapter at Georgia Southern held several protests in response to racism on campus. The events were partially sparked by insensitive comments made by a student at the university. 

The first protest took place on Nov. 17 at the Russell Union and was classified as a “Black Out Walk-Out”. The protest consisted of students walking out of class and meeting at the Union. Many students that participated, attended the protest as a direct response to the post.

“[The post] was basically daring black people to start a “Black Lives Matter” type of thing at Georgia Southern. It was a dare basically. It was like, “I dare you guys to stand up,” said Derek Johnson, freshman business management major.

Dean Patrice Jackson was present at the event to show support towards students and be able to assist them in any of their needs.

“In any issue, my role is to support students and be a link between students and other administrators, so that is what I’m here to do,” said Jackson. “I’m here to listen, I’m here to hear, and I’m here to support.”

Jackson encourages students to express their concerns, but in a respectful and civil way. However, Jackson doesn’t know what the impact of these protests will be yet.

“I will wait to see. I feel like it celebrates students who want to use their voice, as long as it is respectful, as long as there is civility involved, I celebrate that,” said Jackson. “But the outcome of this, I’m interested to see.”

Some students were passionate about the issue during the protest, especially the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, which performed a couple of demonstrations at the Union. 

“I’m from Atlanta, Georgia, and coming down Statesboro I got to see a different side of America, in a sense. In my opinion, racism has really been exposed to me at a higher level that I have ever experienced in my life,” said Tracy Lynch III, graduate student in applied engineering.

Lynch feels that issues, such as race, should be discussed more often and that the time to discuss them has always been there.

“I don’t think this is the time, it has always been the time,” said Lynch. “I just think that the difference between now and the years past is that now we have more awakened individuals, awakened at the issues at-hand and all the different concerns that affect America today.”

The second protest took place again at the Union on Nov. 18, but instead of a walk-out, it was classified as a silent sit-in from 12 pm to 1 pm. 

“We want people to understand we’re not just here to hang out,” said 22 year old biology graduate student Raven Mims. “We’re going to school here too. We want the same respect and the same outlook we have of ourselves, and we need other people to have that same view of us as well.”

Before any of the protests, the NAACP Chapter at Georgia Southern released a statement with a list of demands. The list included current interim President Jean Bartles to be named permanent president by the Board of Regents, an increase in the number of African-American professors at Georgia Southern, the advancement and promotion of the Africana Studies Program, and other demands. The NAACP expects a response by 5 p.m. on Nov. 18.

James Boyd, the 2nd Vice President of the NAACP Chapter, assured members of the protest and onlookers that the protest was not in response to the social media comments and was already planned, but those comments did heighten their response.

The NAACP Chapter continued the conversation with an open forum called “Niggas vs Negus” after the protests. The forum encouraged focusing on creating solutions and including people from every segment of the student body to create a new, inclusive culture on campus.