SALSA paints the Rock following alleged discriminatory chants


Students gather to support SALSA (Spanish and Latino Student Association) in protest against last weekend’s discriminatory chants during the Homecoming parade, on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016.

Cameron Gorman

SALSA holds meeting to discuss discriminatory chants from on Vimeo.

The Rock on Kent State’s front campus was surrounded Thursday night by people holding hands in a display of solidarity for the university’s Spanish and Latino Student Association following alleged discriminatory chants at the Homecoming parade last weekend.

“Several of our members heard the chant ‘build that wall’ (during the homecoming parade),” said Rachel Mason, president of SALSA. “This is a response to that, (so) we can turn ‘that wall’ into something that is unifying, and shows a sense of solidarity among the Kent State community.”

SALSA members arrived prior to the show of solidarity from students and community members to paint the rock in honor of their organization.

“On one side of the rock we painted the map of the world, the global map, and on the other side … that (is) painted specifically (for) Latin America,” said Natalia Roman, former SALSA president and senior communication studies major. ”It also says ‘Salsa Unido,’ … our hashtag after the incident, which means ‘unified SALSA.’ At the bottom of the rock it says ‘si se puede’, which means ‘yes we can.’”

Among SALSA members, many other facets of Kent’s State’s community — including fellow students and Greek Life representatives and members — came to the peaceful demonstration.

Kolton Davidson, a junior psychology major and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity member, said he was there to show SALSA support from Greek life.

“We heard about (what happened at the parade), obviously, and that’s just not cool — that’s not what we’re about, that’s not what Sig Ep’s about,” Davidson said. “I think there was a lot of people on Main Street that day … (and) anybody could’ve said anything …. But, like I said, we’re just here to support and show that Greek life is here. We didn’t want that to happen.”

During the event, demonstrators were allowed to enter the circle formed by joined hands and share their thoughts and feelings about the incident, as well as their experiences in SALSA, or discrimination at large.

Marley Lieberman, a sophomore music major, said that she too was there for support.

“I think that what happened was insane, and we shouldn’t have to live in a world where you are put out like that and viewed as not humans,” Lieberman said. “America is literally a mixing pot of everybody, so why can’t we just support (it)?”

Those in the circle shared stories of personal struggles and shared pains, as well as messages of support and understanding.

Part of an open letter from the Undergraduate Student Government, which will be released publicly on Monday, was also read by Olivia Mullen, director of student involvement.

Rachel Marchese, SALSA’s social media manager, said this event was a step forward.

“I think we’re trying to use the publicity we’re getting in a positive way,” she said. “This is definitely part of the healing process.”

Cameron Gorman is a diversity reporter, contact her at [email protected]