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IU South Bend SGA President introduces weekly column

SGA president to host Black Lives Matter forum
By: STEPHEN SALISBURY
SGA President

It is with great enthusiasm that I write to you today as your new student body president and president of your Student Government Association (SGA), the purpose of which is the advancement of student life through the betterment of our campus environment, nurturance of education, and provision of a safe and harmonious academic atmosphere.

It is with this mission in mind that I hope you are taking full advantage of all of the fun things happening this week as part of our annual Welcome Week. From the outdoor movies to the SGA BBQ and Color Run; from the corn roast and home varsity volleyball game to the Afterglow Dance and hypnotist Chris Jones, there is something for everyone to get you back into the campus spirit.

I have had the pleasure of talking to so many different departments and programs this summer in preparation for a productive year. Every person with whom I’ve spoken, from the chancellor to the deans, to our maintenance, custodial and kitchen staffs, along with numerous faculty and other administrators, is committed to giving you the best possible collegiate experience while you are here.

The SGA met throughout the summer, drawing on experts in the field of student engagement to learn how we can play a positive role in getting you plugged into something more than just your classes. My goal with this column each week will be to highlight some of the many opportunities you will have to fulfill that mandate.

Coming up this week:

On a serious note, many of us are fully aware of the many tragedies that have occurred this summer: the shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, to the ambush that killed five police officers in Dallas, Texas; there was the attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last spring and the terrorist attack in Nice, France, this summer; and the two main political parties have chosen their candidates while the mudslinging from both sides becomes more creative every day.

It was within this context that I began to determine what we as students could do to be a part of the civil discourse that is taking place all around these issues. That is when I began reaching out to experts around our campus and developing what has become one of our main events during this week. We’ve titled it: What’s Going On? An Academic Discussion about the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Resurgence of Social Activism in America! From Occupy Wall Street to “Feel the Bern,” the U.S. has seen a groundswell of young people and many minority communities raising their voices more frequently in response to perceived attacks on social justice.

This open forum hosted by the IUSB SGA and Office of Student Life will provide an opportunity for dialog between students, faculty, staff and administrators along with representatives from the local civil rights community, the mayor’s office and the South Bend Police Department.

The goal will be to talk about events that have taken place and some of the systemic issues that have led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and others like it across the country. We will discuss the impact these types of movements have on traditionally marginalized communities and how our institutions are choosing to respond.

One major goal of this event is to model to our students that it is possible to provide an avenue for civil debate without it digressing into diatribe or vitriol. I will actually be moderating this discussion with the mayor’s new diversity and inclusion officer, Christina Brooks, who is, herself, an IU South Bend Alumna.

Our expert panelists include Marvin Lynn, dean of IUSB School of Education; Darryl Heller, director of the IUSB Civil Rights and Heritage Center; April Lidinsky, director of the IUSB Women’s and Gender Studies Program; Betsy Lucal, director of the IUSB First Year Experience; Operations Division Chief Jeff Rynearson and Community Outreach Capt. Darryl Boykins of the South Bend Police Department; and a representative from the local civil rights community.

Student perspectives will be represented by La’zhane Chaffer, president of the Student Association for Civil Rights and Social Justice; Caderia Strickland, president of the Black Student Union; Madison Hofferth, president of the Feminist Student Union; Yadira Gil, president of the Latino Student Union; Michael McMillion, president of the Queer Straight Alliance and other student leaders representing underrepresented communities across our campus. This event will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, August 25, in Wiekamp Lecture Hall, Room 1001. I would like to highly encourage you to attend and join me as we embark on this exciting year of engagement together.

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