On Friday, Nov. 20, Students for Liberation held a rally on Manchester Plaza. The purpose of the rally was to show support for students at the University of Missouri, Yale University and others across the country, and also to bring the conversation taking place at those universities to Winston-Salem and Wake Forest University.
The group’s minister of information, Charles Athanasopoulos, began the event with a moment of silence for Paris, Kenya, Mali and other countries and cities that have recently suffered terrorist attacks or violence. He then opened the stage to the audience, allowing anybody who wanted to speak on an issue to take the microphone. Students spoke about transgender relations, race relations and the campus’s tendency to normalize daily problems like micoraggressions and posts on Yik Yak that make minorities on campus feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
The group then began to outline their principles and demands, full versions of which are also in the group’s piece on The Pub. Some demands included banning Yik Yak due to threats towards students of color, banning the Confederate flag on campus and adding gender-neutral bathrooms across campus.
The event began at 6 p.m. and lasted for approximately an hour. There were around 30 to 35 students and faculty in the audience, including Dean Adam Goldstein and Vice President of Student Life Penny Rue. Goldstein took the microphone to talk about the importance of conversation and dialogue, although he declined to answer the group’s questions regarding the administration’s stance on Students for Liberation’s demands.
Although the group and the speakers expressed appreciation towards the people in attendance, some were upset that more Wake Forest students did not come.
Vonnie White, one of the students who spoke, expressed her disappointment at the lack of students who attended the rally.
“We are their classmates and we’re telling them how we feel on this campus,” White said. “In return, [they] are telling us that it doesn’t matter.”
In addition to the rally, Students for Liberation has organized a food and coat drive and has begun a student mentoring program in which students from the group work with ninth graders in the community. Students for Liberation plans to hold more rallies in the future in order to continue the discussion, according to its Facebook page.