By: Samuel Smith, Columnist
Last Thursday, on April 18th, a group of protesters, known as the “Bible Believers” clashed with students at Cross Campus Drive, in front of the Center for the Arts. The “Bible Believers” were not students of Towson University.
The “Bible Believers” held signs that, quite frankly, said things I can not repeat here, but were homophobic, transphobic, sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, and islamophobic, to name a few. However, students came out in the hundreds to counter-protest. They waved pride flags, members of the band played fight songs, and students made sure their voices were heard.
But why was there such a large-scale reaction to something that would have otherwise been so small, meaningless, and quite frankly, just annoying otherwise?
I can’t speak for other students, but quite frankly, I was fed up.
Why? Because more needs to be done at this school to foster a community of respect, inclusion, and diversity.
I, anecdotally, have seen an uptick of hate/bias incidents at Towson. This is only my second semester here! And, speaking with older colleagues and friends, they’ve definitely felt an uptick too.
But, Towson has an unfortunate history with xenophobia, and I can’t help but hold that in the back of my mind when I think about diversity on campus. I can’t help but wonder: what is being done about the hate or bias incidents on campus?
Not enough is being done. There’s not enough transparency. What happens to students who commit hateful or biased actions on campus? What about professors? Staff? I understand there are rules regarding privacy, but there has to be some way something can be said without violating privacy laws. There’s got to be some way they can make the process more well-known and visible. The administration needs to be transparent with students.
Where’s the accountability? First of all, if the administration isn’t doing anything about hate or bias incidents on campus, why not? Why is more not being done? Why were we, the student body, not informed of the “Bible Believers,” when they pre-warned the administration that they were coming to campus?
Why did most students find out through social media, through group chats, through friends about these hateful protesters, and not through administrative communications first? Why did we only get a statement from them after the fact? Why was the first statement sent out so broad and vague?
Lastly, where was Kim Schatzel in all of this? We got a statement from her, but only after the fact. Her presence at the protest would have been a powerful statement as to where she, her administration, and her university stands on hate speech.
Finally, we need more to be done to show students (current, potential, and alumni) where we as a community stand on issues of hate and bias incidents. We need more professors being vocally anti-xenophobia. We need more rallys, more things going on around campus to show our diversity and our inclusion. We need more letters stating that we are an inclusive campus. We need flags flown, music played, songs sung, dances danced. We need more outward statements of inclusion and equity.
As a student, I’m tired. I’m tired of the homophobia, transphobia, racism, the everything. I’m tired of not being sure if I’m protected, on or off campus. I’m tired of hearing the stories of people who weren’t protected on and off campus. I’m tired of Freedom Square being chalked with vile messages. We, as a campus community need to come together. We need the administration to do more. But most importantly, we need to acknowledge our past, and work toward a better future.