Students must build empathy for their marginalized peers


Kasy Heath

Nothing annoys me more than half-a** activists. These “activists” make Instagram and Snapchat posts about how they stand for certain social issues, but do nothing to make actual changes beyond joining a social media hashtag.

What’s worse are the so-called activists who do nothing at all but simply call themselves an activist. What annoys me the most is that half- a** activists are prevalent at a university whose motto is “Pro Humanitate.”

When Laverne Cox, Viola Davis, Chris Paul and Terrence J. come to speak, the venue is at near full capacity. However, when it comes to events hosted by minorities or other marginalized groups on campus, the crowd always looks sparse. Last week I attended the DACA Speak Out event where only a few dozen people came.

I listened to the heartbreaking stories of my classmates whose futures are in the hands of politicians and who may be deported to countries they’ve never known. I listened to the couple dozen professors who showed their support by saying their names, departments they worked in and brief encouraging statements. I listened to my other classmates who weren’t protected by DACA, but wanted to show their support by reading poems or making brief statements.

By the time I made my way over to the microphone to make my statement, my hands trembled as I gave my spiel. I enjoy public speaking, so talking in front of the few dozen faces on the lower quad didn’t faze me. Instead, my hands trembled out of anger that our fellow Demon Deacons were facing an unfathomable predicament and didn’t receive more support.

I’m angry that I didn’t see more professors that these students see in their classrooms, offices or around campus. I’m angry that I didn’t see some of our admissions staff who admitted these students knowing the adversity that they faced just to get into this university. I’m angry at my fellow classmates, especially other minority groups including LGBTQ or the Black Student Alliance members, who didn’t come listen to their peers and show that they stand in solidarity with them. And I’m angry at the President of this institution whose students’ futures in this country are being jeopardized and all he has said has been sent via email.

If we lose these students, we lose a part of the already minimal diversity on this campus. We lose individuals who are a part of a group of 800,000 other individuals who contribute to our country. The very least anyone on this campus could’ve done is come to listen.

The small number of people in attendance at last week’s DACA event is representative of a larger issue. Too many people on this campus only care about people who look like them. How can anyone notice the suffering of their peers, and not listen? How can you see a deeply personal issue affecting someone you sit next to in class and not make any type of effort to show them that you care? Best yet, if you’re a minority on this campus, how could you call for action on helping your issues but you won’t try to show support for other minority groups’ issues?

Take a look in the mirror. If what I’ve complained about applies to you in some way, I strongly urge you to start making some changes when it comes to standing up for social issues. I really don’t know how to explain to someone that they should care about other people; knowing that someone less privileged than you is suffering should be enough to make you want to make changes. It matters.