At its April 19 meeting, the Ithaca College Student Governance Council (SGC) held a discussion surrounding the violence toward the Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) community and the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
The meeting, also attended by President Shirley M. Collado and Rosanna Ferro, vice president for student affairs and campus life, began a conversation to address racism at the college, but it did nothing to attempt to resolve or repair these issues. These conversations need to be consistent and in spaces where students have no choice but to engage with them. Although it is beneficial that the SGC made this space available to students, time and time again there is a lack of participation on behalf of the student body with topics like these. The next step should be including culturally relevant teaching in every classroom.
The next day, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. Following this conviction, Collado made a statement to the college community, saying the conviction does not “erase the sadness, pain and anger of George Floyd’s needless death. … Nor can it erase the recent acts of hatred and violence directed at Black, AAPI, Sikh and Latinx communities, or our nation’s appalling history of persecution and discrimination related to race, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+ status and religion.”
Making a blanket statement is not an effective way to communicate and address the singular issues these communities face. Neither is posting about injustices on social media and then moving on as though all is well. The individualized social injustices that each of these groups face deserve to be recognized and given attention rather than a simple post that only provides self-gratification.
Floyd should not be martyred or used as an opportunity to “unite as one.” We need to acknowledge and educate ourselves on the ways anti-Black discrimination persists in our own communities. Chauvin’s conviction was not an act of justice. It was a step toward accountability. It is not an occasion for non-Black people to celebrate. The pain and terror of Black death should never be used as a beacon of hope.
The SGC meeting began a conversation that was long overdue, but how do we move forward? BIPOC students and faculty deserve to have their experiences centered in order to attempt to bring some sort of justice to our community. We need to not only prioritize BIPOC voices, but we must make the college environment a place that supports and uplifts BIPOC individuals and acknowledges and respects their individual realities.