Writings on the Wall

Students plan to erect a wall of hate in the quad in order to smash it to bridge the gaps of diversity on campus

<span class='credit'>Photo By: Kristyn Sonnenberg | Photo Editor</span><span class='description'>Students paint bricks with demeaning words to be built into a Wall of Oppression and displayed before being torn down by the community. Bricks are still available  for painting between 11a.m. and 3p.m. today in the Quad.</span>
Photo By: Kristyn Sonnenberg | Photo EditorStudents paint bricks with demeaning words to be built into a Wall of Oppression and displayed before being torn down by the community. Bricks are still available for painting between 11a.m. and 3p.m. today in the Quad.

The students of Brophy & McNerney Halls want to do more than reduce hateful words on campus; they want to tear them down.

The Writing’s on the Wall project constructs a real wall for the community to write racial slurs and other discriminatory terms. The wall is then torn down to symbolize that the community will no longer tolerate oppression and hate.

Project enforcers Bryan Lochan, biology and optometry major, and Cristina Daniel, marketing major, are currently recruiting students to prime the concrete bricks for the six by twelve foot wall. Students, faculty, and the Big Rapids community are free to write a derogatory term on the wall Oct. 5 to Oct. 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The wall will be finished by Oct. 17 and unveiled in the quad the next day.

The two resident advisors (RA) participated in a smaller scale wall project during RA training. The impact of that experience and the lack of campus diversity prompted them to expand their experience into a campus-wide event.

“Diversity isn’t just a racial issue, but issues of gender, sexual orientation, and cultural differences,” said Daniel. “There is a need for diversity awareness on many levels.”

<span class='credit'>Photo By: Kristyn Sonnenberg | Photo Editor</span>
Photo By: Kristyn Sonnenberg | Photo Editor

The wall was postponed for a year because of the University Physical Plant’s concerns about injuries. However, after reviewing other campus walls across the country, including the University of Kansas, the University of Tennessee at Martin, Ohio State University, University of Utah. At the persistence of Lochan and Daniel, the project is finally happening here at Ferris.

The National Organization for Woman, International Student Organization, Asian Student Organization, Student Government and The National Resident Hall Honorary are also assisting with the construction and demolition of the wall.

Although Daniel and Lochan have apprehensions about the project, both feel the experience will help impact the Ferris community.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the wall,” said Lochan. “But that’s the best part of this experience and adds to the event.”

Lochan, who hopes that the wall will become an annual campus event, believes that whether the reactions are good or bad, people will learn from each other and have the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Some of the students involved with the project have witnessed oppression on campus and hope to change people’s minds. Talaya Gordon, pre-criminal justice freshman and Brophy resident, said she has witnessed disabled people needing assistance on campus and no one helps. Gordon is also one of the few women in her program and feels that male perspectives outnumber those of females. Even though Gordon is in the minority, she feels that stereotypes go both ways.

“It’s not a woman, white people, or gay thing,” said Gordon. “It’s a people thing.”

Krystal Whitely, criminal justice major and McNerney resident assisting with priming bricks, does not think that the FSU campus is segregated; however, she does not like the use of slurs and wants people to see the impact of the words.

Corey Potter, psychology and forensic biology major, also works on the Brophy/ McNerney staff and participated as a mediator during small groups testing for the wall project.

“I didn’t think it would have a big impact but it does, and people were bothered by these words,” said Potter. “People don’t believe how powerful words are until they say and see them all at once.”

Transfer students also think that the people on campus are not lacking in diversity because of hate but, rather an inability to step outside of their own cliques

The two-sided wall will be destroyed Oct. 22 in the quad with a discussion in the Rankin Dome afterwards. “Everyone’s a minority at some point in their life,” said Lochan.