Students Stand Up For Black Lives Matter

November 1, 2016

By Dominican Star Staff

Nearly one year after gathering in front of President Donna Carroll’s office to fight for racial equality on campus, Dominican University students, faculty and staff congregated once again to demand institutional change.

On Thursday, Oct. 27 at 2:30 p.m., Dominican students, faculty and staff walked out to Division Street in front of Circle Drive, protesting the recent and past acts of racism and social injustice on and off campus. 

With handmade posters, signs and fliers, the group consisting of over 200 bodies chanted, “No plans, no action, no peace!” and “We want deadlines!” Seniors Atzimba Rodriguez, Ahriel Fuller and DaRisha Heavens lead the group. 

Alumna and activist Ambrell Gambrell ’14, who spoke at the Black Lives Matter protest on campus last November spoke alongside Fuller at this protest as well. Names of members of the Board of Trustees were publically read off one by one by, although none were in attendance at the protest. 

Public Safety kept watch with three officers staked out around the parameters, including Manager of Campus Safety and Security John Tsouchlos. 

There was a modest group of faculty and staff members in attendance to observe the protest including: Dean of Students Trudi Goggin, Chief Diversity Officer Sheila Radford-Hill, Vice President of Information Technology Jill Albin-Hill, Dean of the Rosary College of Arts and Sciences Jeff Carlson, Assistant Dean of Advising Angela Frazier, Vice President for Mission and Ministry Claire Noonan, Sociology Department Chair Janice Monti, Associate Director of Financial Aid Debbie Morsovillo, Assistant Professor of English Jane Hseu, Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Social Work Julie Bach and Associate Professor of Apparel Merchandising and Design José Blanco.  

“I’ve read a lot about this but I’ve never heard it directly from student voices,” Blanco said. “I agree with what they’re saying and I think the university is doing some good things but I also think there still is a lot of things to be done. I’m glad there is a variety of students here and that it’s not just one group of students.”

Those who were physically standing and protesting alongside students included: University Minister for Liturgy and the Arts Amy Omi, Director of University Ministry John DeCostanza and Assistant Director of Student Involvement Kate Schmidt, among others.

“The mission of our university is Caritas and Veritas and that’s the reason why anyone should stand up with our Black students,” Schmidt said.

Cars passing on Division Street slowed down to see the protest and read the signs. Several honked their horns to show support. Reporters from the news network Univision and the Wednesday Journal covered the protest and interviewed Fuller and Rodriguez.

“We just don’t have the support that we should have,” Fuller told Univsion reporter Natalie Pérez regarding the Black community on campus.

According to Assistant to the President Maria Romanucci, President Donna Carroll was made aware that the protest was happening at 3:11 p.m., however Carroll didn’t come out until 4 p.m. to address the protesting students. Students were not afraid to verbally confront Carroll as well as Goggin openly sharing their frustrations and concerns.

“I came out here today to support students,” Goggin said. “I think there is a lot of pain in their experience that needs to be addressed.”

In an interview with The Star’s editorial board last week, President Carroll addressed students’ call for action.

“This is a real wake-up call around this issue that has been bubbling to the surface for a while,” Carroll said. “We have already started to address it and we will continue to address it.”

President Carroll also said that she is prepared to take further steps to address this matter and will continue to work diligently through all challenges.

“This is very painful for me,” Carroll said. “I don’t want to say that it’s not. I care deeply about this institution, the mission of this institution and the experience of students. If we have to go through this pain to build a stronger community, then we go through it.”

She also stressed the progress that has been made in the past year including campus safety increasing faculty diversity as well as improved programs for cultural competency.

After observing the students protest, Radford-Hill asked students for permission to share her thoughts.

“You matter,” Radford-Hill said. “Why do you matter? Not just because you’re students, not just because you’re human. You matter because our future as a nation depends on what you’re doing right now.”

Radford hill continued on to say: “I’ve been here over a year now, and I’ve noticed a couple of things: there is institutional racism on this campus, in River Forest, in Oak Park, in Elmwood Park, in Melrose Park, in Chicago and in the country. You are here asking for a plan and some evidence and I am saying to you that the people that need to develop that plan, some are here, some are not, are working to develop it.”

Lastly, students asked the president for a public statement of solidarity from the university; however, it has yet to be seen. The protesting students also asked for an apology from Carroll for saying “All Lives Matter” and not “Black Lives Matter” at the open Black Lives Matter forum on Oct. 12.

Donna Carroll promised students that the administration will have a draft of the plan to the President’s Diversity Advisory Council by Nov. 12.

President Carroll concluded her comments saying, “I love all of you and I realize I may not understand everything…I may not be the perfect president but I’m a god damn good president.”