By: RYAN LOHMAN
Editor in chief
IU South Bend’s Black Student Union (BSU) usually meets on Wednesdays. But last Wednesday, the day the world woke up to the reality of a President Elect Donald Trump, the usual wasn’t going to be good enough.
“At first, I wanted to cancel the meeting,” BSU President Caderia Strickland said. Strickland thought it would be hard to conduct normal business with gloom and despair in the minds of so many students that day. After all, the new president would be a man whom many accused of running a racially charged campaign that enjoyed the support of various white nationalist groups.
But Strickland did hold that meeting because she thought being together might be better for her club than being apart. She was more right than she knew and for more than just her club.
That meeting brought together not only BSU students, but also the Muslim Club, Feminist Student Union, the Queer Straight Alliance, members of the Student Government Association, some professors and otherwise unaffiliated students for what became a safe place for minority students to speak their minds in troubling times.
“I didn’t think anyone would come,” Strickland said, “but it got around.” In the end nearly 80 students by some reports showed up for the meeting to show solidarity with their peers and to build a sort of model for how students at IUSB would deal with the consequences of the 2016 election.
Strickland said she invited the other minority clubs because she felt “more afraid for my peers than for myself.” Black students are used to dealing with discrimination, she said. Many of them have had to for their entire lives. That’s why groups like BSU are well established at universities around the country. But it is those groups that are newer to the spotlight that Strickland thought could use a show of support.
“Some minority groups don’t have as many resources to combat the discrimination,” she said. Groups like IU South Bend’s new Muslim Club formed specifically in response to the rising tide of intolerance some say Trump’s candidacy has ushered into mainstream American politics.
“It’s not necessarily what Trump would do,” Strickland said. “I’m not afraid of Trump. It’s the people that Trump infected with his message. He prayed on the fear of people. My fear is that my peers will have to deal with the normalization of racism.”
Student Government Association Treasurer Nargiza Amirova experienced bullying on a trip to Chicago, The Preface reported in September. That experience led her to form the Muslim Club. Amirova and other club members joined BSU at the meeting last Wednesday. IU South Bend hosts many international students. Many of Trump’s proposals, whether campaign rhetoric or campaign promises, specifically affect these students.
“We all felt like, because of the election results, because of being a minority, we felt in fear,” Amirova said. “I’m in fear of how my sisters who wear hijab would walk in public.”
Many students spoke Wednesday, and from among the diverse crowd came finally some reassurance for those who woke up feeling lost in this new American reality. It is yet to be seen what an actual Trump administration will do, but these students, like many others around the nation, are not waiting to find out.
Amirova said more such meetings will take place, starting with a demonstration from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, on the campus mall in front of the fountain by the Student Activities Center. There, many students plan to protest the election, but also to show other students, the ones who may not know it, that they are there to stand up for them.
“Campus should be a place where we support one another and learn with on another,” Amirova said.