Student Government Faces Pressure to Act on Black Lives Matter Sign Defacement

By Michael McCurry

On Sunday, April 15, Student Government met for their second to last meeting of the current Senate. Coming off the heels of last week’s university-wide announcement about the defacement of the Black Lives Matter sign, the student government faced significant pressure from student activists demanding they take action. Leading the group was former Student Government Senator Richard Taylor (‘20).

“That sign was and is incredibly important to many people in the community and not just people of color,” said Taylor in his opening statements.

He continued, “As you are representative of the general student body, first off, this act should be decried, and secondly there should be a proclamation by Student Government that black lives are important and that black lives matter.”

Taylor also proposed a possible university organized event in support of BLM that should receive co-sponsorship from Student Government. Though most agreed with Taylor’s proposals, some Senators offered concerns that they would be supporting violence.

“I live in St. Louis and I watched the movement, Black Lives Matter, destroy my home,” said Senator Crystal Caragine (‘18). “So I think it is perfectly appropriate for us to say we support racial equality but I don’t think that, as a bipartisan group in Drew, we should be openly supporting, one, a clearly politicized movement and two, a group that has done violent acts.”

With a near unanimous decision, the Student Senate passed a motion to continue with planning for a potential CLA centered event to continue the discussion on Black Lives Matter and to help educate students on what the movement speaks for.

The event will mirror the one being held by Drew Theological School’s Black Ministerial Caucus on April 25 at noon. However, the proposed event would take place at an hour more accessible to students of the CLA.

“Our goal now is to educate because there is a lot of ignorance and there are a lot of people that don’t fully understand what the movement speaks for,” said Senator Alessandra Le Pera (‘20) in support of the proposal.

“We need to say [Black Lives Matter] not just to educate people, but to make sure people feel accepted,” said Senator Aaron Sartorio (‘18) in agreement.

 Immediately after the vote regarding potential event co-sponsorship, the Student Senate then voted to release a press statement in public support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The measure passed with only one Senator voting in opposition.

“I’m definitely satisfied with what happened at the meeting,” said Taylor. “I think it’s really important to acknowledge student government for actually listening to what we had to say.”

“Thanks to Jared [Sutton, SG Pres. ’15-‘17] and Salma [Mahmoud, SG Pres.] and really everyone busting ass at student government, things on this campus are starting to change for the better,” Taylor concluded.

Student Government’s final meeting with the current Senate will take place this Sunday, April 22.

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