By: Cody Boteler, Senior Editor
Students, faculty and staff—but mostly students—gathered in Freedom Square Friday for a “Unity Rally.” It was a response to what’s been happening on campus lately: The incidents involving a student and the black women working at the CLA Café. And then, even more recently, the drawing of a devil over messages drawn in Freedom square supporting the employees.
I was there as an observer and photographer. And, as a straight, white man, an outsider—students were standing up and talking about systematic oppressions and injustices that I’ve never experienced and will never have to experience.
As things were winding down, I spoke with a Towson administrator who asked me if I realized the extent that students were being impacted by what had happened.
I had to admit that, no, as a white guy, I didn’t realize things had been this emotional.
Even as someone so far outside, though, it was a powerful experience. Any time people stand up and make themselves so vulnerable it’s meaningful. At one point, the only sound at Freedom Square was the sobbing of a student activist. The administrator who had stepped up to talk looked like he didn’t know what to say or how to transition into speaking. There was a slight echo. I’m still hearing the cries when I sit and think about the rally for too long.
I was glad to be there. I was glad to see students of color asserting themselves—and even more glad to see members of the administration and faculty listening to them. And I was glad to see the support from other students, standing in solidarity.
It wasn’t my rally. It wasn’t for me. It was a show of support for the marginalized communities on this campus.
That’s why, I think, it’s so hard for me to process it—because I’m an observer, not a participant. I can’t let myself pick one emotion and fixate on it. I have to take the whole thing and address it all as I reflect on what happened. It’s a spot that, as a student journalist, I’m still getting used to being in.
I don’t know what, if any, reforms will come from the discussion that’s been going on at Towson lately. But I’m glad I get to be here and watch some of it happen. Towson University is in its 150th year (more on that next week) and I can already tell that it’s going to be a big one.
Moving forward, I hope that The Towerlight can continue to not only tell the community when these types of things are happening, but keep everyone informed about the issues behind these things. Just as it’s our job, as journalists, to hold institutions and people with power accountable, I hope that you, our audience, will hold us accountable—let us know when things are going on and, even more importantly, let us know if we’re dropping the ball.