Common misconceptions

Students meet to discuss race relations on campus

As a student from a diverse suburb in Detroit, I was shocked to witness the events that unraveled around racism at Ferris.

While at first hesitant, I attended the “What’s Your Role” panel discussion. I had no idea what to expect.

The event was a panel discussion that talked about problems African Americans face at Ferris.

“This will be a very eye-opening event,” the Ferris Events Calendar read. And it sure was.

With more than 50 African American students in attendance, I was one of the 10 white students there.

Participants spent a majority of the time talking about the recent coverage by the Torch on the shooting at Venlo Apartments and the stabbing in Brophy Hall.

There’s no question the recent coverage was controversial.

Students at the event were bothered that the Torch had more coverage and articles on the shooting and not the stabbing. They felt they weren’t equally represented.

Ferris junior television and digital media productions major Anthony Brock felt some coverage on the shooting “wasn’t concrete.”

What some might not realize is, the Torch responded to the seriousness dictated by officials. Multiple press conferences were held at the time of the shooting. The stabbing was an entirely different incident. Officials didn’t send out nearly as much information, so the Torch had to report what was given.

Ferris junior psychology major Breia Harris said students at the event seemed more accusatory towards the Torch and didn’t ask many questions to have a better understanding of the events.

Harris said a stabbing is up close and personal, while a shooting can happen at a distance and can leave people wondering who did it, which was the question on a lot of people’s minds the morning of the incident.

Harris said she thought false information was reported at the time of the shooting by the Torch as far as the Black Greek Council (BGC) unofficial after party reference.

The Torch did not make up or seek to tie BGC to the shooting. Multiple sources confirmed that some attendees at the BGC Icebreaker event moved off campus to continue the festivities at Venlo.

Stanley Pates, the lead eye witness in the investigation, told members of the Torch staff what happened outside of the party during the shooting. Pates witnessed the events from his car.

“Just some of the points I felt were coming down on BGC, and it seemed like BGC wasn’t interviewed before the article,” Harris said.

BGC’s President, Kevin Baldwin, was interviewed before the article was published and said Icebreaker attendees went their separate ways, but the shooting had no relationship to the BGC.

Brock said he realized the shooting and the stabbing were two different types of incidents.

Another Torch representative and I were more than happy to attend the event. We love talking through issues students bring to us and I walked away feeling better about the entire thing. I hope others did, too.

The panel also discussed racial problems faced by African American students at Ferris and students in attendance were able to put their input in as well.

Seeing students being able to talk openly, I left feeling more positive with a sense that the student community at Ferris is heading in a better direction.

For me, race has never been an issue. I grew up in a suburb of Detroit, so coming to Ferris was even a culture shock for myself. I was always used to sitting next to an African American in class. It was normal growing up.

On the other hand, I have also seen first-hand people applying stereotypes to others simply because of their race.

“I think people should not look at someone as an African American, but as an individual,” Harris said.

College is a place to learn and explore many different things, and race shouldn’t hold you back from that.

“If you don’t like somebody, you don’t know them,” Brock said. “Especially if you have never taken the time to try to get to know them. That’s fine, but I still want more for you. You don’t realize that at the end of the day, you’re just rejecting knowledge and rejecting becoming a better person.”

While everyone in attendance may not have agreed with others’ ideas or opinions, I think people left with a different perspective and hopefully learned something new.

On the other hand, Harris left feeling like nothing was solved in regards to problems African Americans face on campus.

“As I was sitting there on the panel, there was a lot of assumptions and opinions,” Harris said. “The next event should be sitting down with people and asking questions, without emotions involved.”

The event was held by Delta Sigma Theta, Black Leaders Aspiring for Critical Knowledge (BLACK) and the Office of Multicultural Student Services. Hopefully there are more to come with an even greater number of students participating in open discussion.

It was awesome to see students gather to talk about issues without administration involved. It proves our capability and maturity as college students and our generation as a whole.

We can make a difference. And it all starts now.