0320_mjp_DiscriminationStation_ow SMC hosts Discrimination Station event, empowers students

Olivia Williams

An emergency mass meeting held directly after the 2016 presidential election results came to light was the topic of discussion for the event hosted in Kent State’s Student Multicultural Center (SMC) on Monday.

Students of all backgrounds voiced they felt afraid and uneasy after learning that their new president was Donald Trump. Issues of discrimination, prejudice and racism were concerns of the groups who attended the meeting called by Kent State’s Black United Students (BUS).

At the meeting, Candace Taylor, a junior criminology and justice studies major, proposed a plan of action. She pitched the idea for the SMC to host an event to teach students how to deal with instances of discrimination, including what they can do to defend themselves.

“Because of our new president … there are already people who are feeling bold and feeling like they can do whatever,” Taylor said. “I thought this event could help people be introduced to certain situations and help coach them through.”

Discrimination Station was then created, a collaborative event put on by staff in the SMC based on student feedback from November’s emergency mass meeting. Throughout the night, students witnessed reenactments of different scenarios and discussed afterward. 

Travis Johnson, a senior interpersonal communication major, was among the group of students who volunteered to participate in each scenario. He said he was caught off guard when the actress started singing a song with a derogatory term.

“You have to educate people when it comes to using words from another culture,” Johnson said. “I think this event really opened people’s eyes as to why we shouldn’t say certain things and how history really plays a part in what we do today.”

Summer Wigley, a first-year graduate student in the Higher Education Administration program, was the actress who volunteered to sing the song with a derogatory term and act out an encounter between a white female and two black men.

“When we got her,e we had no prep beforehand, so I was totally thrown off by some of the prompts that we had to participate in,” Wigley said. “As someone who identifies as an ally and has been welcomed as an advocate to the persons of color community, it was super uncomfortable for me to do that and have that mindset that it was okay for me to use the ‘N’ word in a song.”

Talea Drummer, the director of SMC, helped put this event together. Drummer said this event was very emotional because she and her team wrote each scenario and prepared the actresses.

“Now that this is over, I feel empowered, and it is good to know that there were multiple perspectives in the room,” Drummer said. “There weren’t only students of color who participated. I don’t think there was one person who walked out of the room tonight who can say that they didn’t learn something or that there wasn’t part of them that was changed.”

Olivia Williams is the African-American student life reporter, contact her at [email protected].