In the third summer Cupola Conversation, “Driving Out Darkness: Students Empowering Students,” East Carolina University continued an ongoing discussion about systematic racism.
Thursday’s Cupola Conversation included a panel made up of student leaders who gave their opinions on what student groups are doing to fight racism.
The open forum which allowed for the audience to ask questions, panel members Student Government Association (SGA) President Tucker Robbins, Student Activities Board (SAB) President Lilah El-Halabi, Magazine Division General Manager Zoë Lukas from Student Media (Pirate Media 1), Black Student Union (BSU) President Tyrell Govan and ECU Ambassadors President AJ Modlin gave their viewpoint on what ECU can do to improve its approach to systematic racism.
Robbins said SGA will continue to help move ECU forward and make positive changes with the formation of an SGA caucus whose purpose is to hear out and understand minority voices on campus. He said it aligns with SGA’s Equity and Intercultural Committee by listening to minority groups to learn how to better support and represent them on campus.
“We have also partnered with the counseling center (Center for Counseling and Student Development) to fund their after-hours crisis hotline for students who may be in mental health needs after normal business hours and don’t have anyone to run to,” Robbins said.
Robbins commended the efforts ECU’s administration has made to be available to its students. He said they have been open to change and making efforts to carry ECU forward, according to Robbins.
Govan said BSU has met every week over the summer to keep the conversation going while additionally working on forming a Black Student Coalition in North Carolina. He said the idea is to work together with Black students on all campuses to keep the voice of the Black Lives Matter movement strong. He said BSU will make its presence known more on campus in the fall.
When it comes to white allies being better supporters of racial equality it is a human rights issue, according to Govan. He said white allies don’t have to join the marches, but they are welcomed if they do. He said they should speak out and use their platform to further the message.
“In this country, I feel like white people are more impactful than the Black man’s voice. When y’all (white people) say things and when y’all speak out for us it helps us. That goes a long way. We actually need y’alls support to get where we want to go,” Govan said.
Modlin encouraged those who might not want to march in the streets to use their voice on social media. He said to share the information the movement represents on social media and to seek education from scholarly sources on the topic to be better informed.
The panel put a heavy emphasis on voting in both the presidential election in November and the legislative elections in 2022. Modlin said systematic racism doesn’t only exist in law enforcement but also in many day-to-day situations. He said lawmakers are a key to fighting it.
“Make sure you ask your representatives or people who are running for these offices and educate yourself on them and their platform before you vote,” Modlin said.
The Cupola Conversation addressed several comments and questions from the community throughout the duration of the discussion and a full recording can be found on the ECUnited website. SGA will host its second Facebook live Town Hall addressing COVID-19 and the fall semester on Tuesday at 1 p.m.