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Silent demonstration spreads awareness of race relations at Mizzou

In support for students combating racism at Mizzou, Yale and other institutions throughout the nation, over 100 members of the UM community dress in black and gather at the Rock for a silent protest Friday afternoon. The 30 minutes of silence aimed to make students on campus aware of the issue. William Riggin // News Editor

In support for students combating racism at Mizzou, Yale and other institutions throughout the nation, over 100 members of the UM community dress in black and gather at the Rock for a silent protest Friday afternoon. The 30 minutes of silence aimed to make students on campus aware of the issue. William Riggin // News Editor

More than 100 University of Miami students and faculty gathered at the Rock this afternoon and stood in silence for 30 minutes to show their solidarity with students who have faced racism at the University of Missouri, Yale and other universities across the nation. The demonstrators dressed in black and brought signs showing support for students, such as “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” which was the key message they hoped to get across. To ensure that message was heard, Senior Hülya Miclisse-Polat, who assisted an organizing the event, periodically broke the silence and made it clear as to why the demonstration was occurring. “We are against racial injustice,” she said. “We are against racial threats, and anything that happened at Mizzou can happen at any campus and we are watching. UM to Mizzou.”

In addition to the demonstrators, there were a number of supporters standing on the side and giving hand-outs to further explain the situation to people passing by.

The handouts described how, on Oct. 20, black students at the University of Missouri sent a list of demands to the school administration. The students claimed that the administration had failed to properly address daily racial slurs and micro-aggressions. Until demands were met, there were protests, a hunger strike and a boycott of all football games by members of the football team.

Many students who walked by said they hadn’t really paid attention to the news and were unaware of the situation at Missouri. The demonstration worked to call attention to the issue.

Professors who came out to show support said it was important that the university recognized the seriousness of what’s happening across the nation.

“I want to make sure everybody understands that one can only learn in an environment conducive to respectful sharing of opinions,” said Maria Stampino, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Without that I cannot do my job.”

Stampino said what’s happening shows that oppression is not in the past, and it needs to be addressed over and over again until it no longer exists. She said students have come to her multiple times in her career to discuss options for how to deal with some of the racial discrimination they have faced.

“We can’t just be complacent and say we’re so diverse here it won’t happen here,” she said. “Even just a couple of weeks ago… I know people who were verbally attacked.”

At the end of the demonstration many were drenched in sweat and said they felt dehydrated, but were happy that they came out to support.

“A lot of people honestly don’t know and a lot of people don’t want to know and putting on this demonstration in the center of campus as people walk by, it brings a sense of curiosity,” said sophomore Antonio Mercurius.

There may be a commemorative event or forum to continue the dialogue about what’s going on, according to Miclisse-Polat.

November 13, 2015

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