Wednesday afternoon, NC State University Student Government hosted its ‘Town Hall On Racial Climate’. A panel of students came together to voice concerns and present action items to combat the perpetuation of racially charged incidents, and issues of inclusivity at NC State.
The panel consisted of six student leaders who spearheaded the conversation: Daryl Johnson, Amani Manning, Ryan Barnes, Kamrie Risku, Moriah Barrow, and Rodney Strickland.
Several events have thickened the tension between groups at NC State. For instance, in response to the Ferguson protests in the fall of 2014, posts to social media forums like ‘Yik Yak’ were perceived as discriminatory and demeaning by some. One post read “how to get rid of Ferguson protesters: announce free fried chicken in the atrium”.
A rolling slideshow of derogatory messages (like the Yik Yak post) served as a literal backdrop for the panel on the stage of Stewart Theater. Students proposed diversity training for student organization leaders and incoming freshman, providing more resources to the Asian American student population, and the creation of an accountability system for non-academic misconduct.
Kamri Risku’s action proposal involved creating an ‘honor court’ for NC State students. The elected body of students would hear grievances pertaining to incidents and acts that may be harmful or demeaning. She said that the court would not be one focused on consequences, but rather allowing students to gain understanding when acts occur.
“Often, the victims of these incidents are left to deal with the aftermath alone,” she said. “This court would bring both parties into the process of learning.”
The presentation of action items was followed by a lively discussion filled with comments and the sharing of concerns from the nearly 200 students, faculty and staff in attendance. Student leaders vowed to make the town hall a continuation of an effort to create better experiences for individuals of all backgrounds within the NC State community.
“This is not the beginning of this,” said Student Government President Khari Cyrus. “And this won’t be the end.”