Black students call for increased safety, equality on campus

%28Left%29+Darius+Jackson%2C+member+of+Four+Poets%2C+One+Mic%2C+and+Trinity+Felton%2C+senior+communication+media+studies+major%2C+at+the+Center+for+Black+Studies+town+hall+Monday.+

(Left) Darius Jackson, member of Four Poets, One Mic, and Trinity Felton, senior communication media studies major, at the Center for Black Studies town hall Monday.

Elisa Reamer, Reporter

DeKALB – The Center for Black Studies hosted a virtual “Our Center, Our Home: A Virtual Town hall for Black Students” event Monday over Zoom, where 21 participants shared their thoughts and experiences as Black students on campus while discussing university updates. 

CBS Director Anne Edwards hosted the first town hall for the spring semester. She said the purpose of the meeting was so she could share her knowledge of what is going on around campus and answer questions students may have. 

Since the defacing of the CBS building, there have been high demands for changes to make Black students more comfortable while on campus. Devlin Collins, president of NIU’s chapter of the NAACP, went through the demands at the town hall that were sent to NIU faculty. 

“There are a couple of smaller issues that we think that we can get solved within the next year, to be honest with you,” Collins said. “They range from things like getting the Confederate flag and hashtag all lives matter banned or restricted.”

Students shared that they want to be able to walk around campus and see more people who look like them. 

One of the demands made by the Faculty Senate Social Justice Committee is to hire and retain BIPOC individuals, Edwards said. 

Trinity Felton, senior communication media studies major, said it is important to hire people that look like her, and in the four years she has attended NIU, she’s had only one Black professor. 

Everybody pays to be here, you know, everybody should feel comfortable at least having somebody they feel like they can ask questions to on a regular basis. ”

— Trinity Felton

“I just feel like that it would be great to have somebody who I can feel like I can relate to and ask questions because I don’t feel like I can ask questions because you look down on me or you look at me differently and that’s not okay,” Felton said. “Everybody pays to be here, you know, everybody should feel comfortable at least having somebody they feel like they can ask questions to on a regular basis.” 

Gaylen Rivers, senior industrial and systems engineering major, said it’s so important for Black students to use their voices to make a change.

“[Student leaders] sat down and talked to these administrators about the list of demands, and they’re listening to us, and we’re trying to get these things moving in action,” Rivers said. “Because at the end of the day, we can’t just talk and complain about what we want different at the university, we really have to start putting things into action.” 

CBS has been making improvements by brightening up the area around the building, hosting inclusive events and will be installing two cameras that will be facing out, Edwards said. 

“How can we ask other people to support us, if we don’t support ourselves?” Edwards asked.