Taylor Cole
Arts & Culture Editor

With the results of the election, many people, especially those in minority groups, worry about their rights being stripped away from them. They’re scared that harassment, inequality, and injustice will become their new reality. But has that reality already been occurring?

Many made signs for the Thursday protest. Photo courtesy of Taylor Cole.
Many made signs for the Thursday protest. Photo courtesy of Taylor Cole.

This Thursday, students gathered in the Student Memorial Center promenade to advocate their right to speak up and stand up to harassment that has already been happening on campus.

Minority groups of all kinds, including different races, religions, sexualities, genders and many more wore the typical “Hi, My Name is ___” name tags and filled in the blank with their “category”, whether that be gay, black, female, etc.

Students chanted the mantra “What About Us” and “What do we want? Support! When do we want it? Now!” Students made signs and held them high as they protested for support from the campus. One woman’s sign in particular advocated that silence strengthens authority.

Many are angry with the way campus is handling episodes of harassment. Students say they feel as though harassment is happening and no one is doing anything about it. Even when it’s reported, students feel little is being done to keep it from happening again.

The student protest organizer opened the floor to students to stand on a bench in the promenade and tell the crowd why they stood in solidarity with the minority groups.

One student to share their story was Em Perkins. They told a story of a simple sign on their dorm room door last year that advocated acceptance for all. Within in the first week of the sign’s appearance, it was taken down off their door. Assuming it was from a drunken student’s behavior, they put more signs on the door that advocated acceptance for gender and sexuality equality. Those signs were ripped in half.

The door became known as “The Gay Door”. Slurs and insults would be said about their door as certain students walked past.

Perkins discussed the situation with the Title IX coordinator, where Perkins claims nothing came of it. They talked to their resident assistant and was told they couldn’t pull the tapes to see who the students were ripping their signs off the door. Because of this, proper reporting couldn’t be done to fix the issue.

In addition, Perkins, an English and Spanish education major, was put specifically in a classroom during field placement where many students had a transphobic and anti-LGBT mentality.

“I was used as an educational tool because I am the token gay, the token trans,” Perkins stated. This was a rough experience for them because the students wouldn’t acknowledge who they were and insulted them frequently.

Students should be able to come to university and feel safe and accepted. The university can’t stop every incident of hate and injustice. While that would be the ideal, it’s nearly impossible. However, if it does happen, students should feel comfortable enough to tell university authorities. More so, students should feel confident that their concerns will be addressed and they don’t have to live in fear, anxiously avoiding the next episode of harassment.

Brian Hazlett, Vice President of Student Affairs, emailed students today giving his stance on the matter. “I wanted to let you know that I hear you,” Hazlett stated. “I hear your frustration, anxiety and fears.”

Hazlett stressed that Millersville desperately tries to foster a community where harassment is deemed unacceptable in all regards and never happens in general. He urges students to stand up and speak out when they see acts of injustice and hate.

Along with his email, multiple resources for students to use to report incidents, take care of their emotional well-being, or become involved with the campus’ community were listed.

After seeing today’s demonstration, hopefully the way for change has been paved. It’s important that students listen to their peers concerns and also be a vigilant bystander and reporter as Hazlett has urged. Working together like this will create a safer community for all students and faculty.

“Hate is not justified,” said Perkins. And they’re right, it certainly never is.