Gettysburg Blackout brings awareness to racial issues on campus

The Black Student Union at Gettysburg College. Photo courtesy of

The Black Student Union at Gettysburg College. Photo courtesy of

By Julia Sippel, Staff Writer

On Thursday, Nov. 12, in the wake of race issues across the country, Gettysburg students participated in a campus-wide Blackout, wearing black in support of those students facing discrimination at the University of Missouri and countless others.

For those who are not aware, Mizzou has recently been in the news when a peaceful protest became a riot, to be watched only in silence by the university president, Tim Wolfe. Students of color felt unsafe in their college environment, eventually calling and obtaining for Wolfe’s resignation.

“It took the black Mizzou football players refusing to step on the field and a black student by the name of Jonathan Butler going on a hunger strike for Wolfe to finally resign,” said Ja’Nai Harris ‘16. “Following this event, students at Mizzou have been threatened by their peers and forced to feel unsafe on a campus that they were fighting to claim their rightful place in.”

What many may not notice is the resonance of these issues for students here in Gettysburg. With the summer’s Confederate flag debate reigniting racial tensions inherent in the borough’s Civil War history, collegiate issues like those in Missouri are far from mythological.

“We support them because we are them,” said Raichl Davenport ‘17. “Here at Gettysburg, we have faced similar incidents [since the civil rights movement of the 1960s]; however, our administrations have made efforts to change things.”

“Being a Person of Color at a college like Gettysburg forces you to choose whether you will assert your identity or not on a daily basis…. They can choose to not take a stand or identify with the struggle of their racial group, however this only continues to support the systematic and institutionalized racism that acts against them,” said Harris.

While Gettysburg is not the subject of CNN-aired riots, these problems unquestionably exist. By standing together on this day, students showed unity with both their fellow students here and those across the country and around the world.

“We need a campus culture change,” summarized Davenport. “We need louder, stronger responses from our administrators. We need more than silence from our peers. We need support, acceptance, discussion and community, and right now we do not see that.”

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