Movement must engage the unengaged

The hashtags, the screenshots of deplorable YikYak comments and the images and videos of the Integrity for Guilford movement on campus have resonated throughout the Triad, garnering the attention of local noise machine Fox 8, among others.

With supporters and haters hanging in the balance of every word, a system of non-involvement plagues the school.

“I only attended one walkout because I was on the way to the Caf,” said junior student-athlete Justin Best. “Some black student-athletes simply might not care about the movement or the demands because they haven’t experienced discrimination personally.”

The fear of being labeled racist, bigoted or ignorant is censoring opinions and hindering involvement in a movement that should have, by now, spread beyond the steps of Founders Hall. Instead, students walk past, uninterested, or hide in their rooms.

“I think the fear (of speaking out) is largely based on a lack of experience discussing difference,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Todd Clark. “A core part of enhancing diversity and multiculturalism is real, honest dialogue where all people involved are willing to learn with each other. Fear of labels isn’t just hurting the minority community, it is hurting everyone in our community.”

At Wesleyan University, a private liberal arts college in Middletown, Connecticut, students created a petition calling for their school newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus, to be defunded. The petition was retaliation against an op-ed by an adult student who criticized the Black Lives Matter movement’s anti-police sentiment.

This student, a 30-year-old white Iraq War veteran, was labeled a racist for calling on the movement’s leaders to condemn language that could incite violence against the police.

Coincidentally, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an African-American, was labeled an Uncle Tom and a sellout for decrying the Black Lives Matter movement.

“This Black Lives Matter (movement), which I have renamed ‘Black Lies Matter’ … is built on a lie,” Clarke said in his August appearance on “Hannity.” “No longer in the United States, and I think that I’m living proof of that, no longer can blacks as a whole claim victim status, except for one situation.”

Clarke’s comments strike abrasively against the victim mentality conservatives claim inhabits Black Lives Matter protesters. They also come at a point in time when colleges around the nation have demanded change in the way students of color are represented and treated.

Standing in solidarity with the University of Missouri, a group of students begun a mini campus revolution which has blasted the administration for exploiting black students through advertising without properly addressing their needs.

In the list of demands given out by the protesters on Nov. 12, students demand that “by the academic year 2017–18, Guilford increases the percentage of black faculty and staff members campus-wide by 10 percent.”

However, some professors don’t acknowledge the foundation of the student protesters’ arguments.

“I was thinking that Guilford is a unique place because of its true diversity,” said Assistant Professor of Computing Technology & Information Systems Chafic Bou-Saba, who is from Lebanon. “I am not sure that there is an issue.”

Guilford is a small college and an eclectic one at that. But the movement needs to do a better job of noticing the faces that stand to the side and don’t chant and don’t sign the petition. Their voices need to be heard the most.

The best thing for this movement is to reach out to those who disagree or feel indifferent. Hear their opinions and don’t make them feel any more excluded than they already are. Remaining indifferent will only impede the movement’s progress.