By: Grace Sewell
On the afternoon of February 6th I received and email from Bryant’s Vice President for Student Affairs John Saddlemire, titled “Alleged Racial Incident”. The email, addressed to all Bryant University students, spoke of an incident where “racial bias” was received by a student on campus. Saddlemire went on to explain how racist behavior is not tolerated at the university and an investigation was occurring.
From speaking with other students, I had already heard what happened. On February 4th, Quinton Law posted his account of what happened to his Facebook page. Law, an African American senior who plays football and is president of the Bryant Democrats, was walking down at the townhouses when the racial attack occurred.
Since seeing both the email from administration and Law’s Facebook post, I decided to reach out to hear what he had to say. Law was extremely gracious for my interest in his story and we spoke about everything that was going on.
Law said “it’s much bigger than just my incident now” referring to administration’s involvement as well as legal implications that the situation has caused. Though I assumed administration’s involvement would be to address the issue of racial conflict on campus, I was surprised to hear they were more concerned with Law’s Facebook post.
Aside from the email sent by John Saddlemire two days following the incident, the student body as a whole has not heard anything else from administration. The community is lacking answers to the consequences of this behavior as well as further information addressing how the university plans to prevent further occurrences.
Following his post, Law has been contacted by several students on campus that have had similar situations occur to them and in some cases they were much more severe. From communicating with Law, he did not want to specifically get this one student in trouble, rather bring up the existence of racial divide and understanding on campus.
Law wants students at Bryant University to be able to share their negative experiences here and give them an outlet for support rather than being silenced by administration who wants to keep Bryant’s reputation in good standing by sweeping situations like these under the rug.
Preventing students from sharing their stories, especially those including behavior not tolerated at Bryant University goes against our right to the first amendment.
Law knows well that Bryant University has the Center for Diversity and Inclusion on campus. Though this center exists, it has not helped in preventing situations as such. In addition, he spoke of the Multicultural Student Union club; however, he feels that only those of color are the ones attending meetings. Law is working with other clubs in hopes to make an event centered around diversity where everyone feels welcome as the ones who are not culturally diverse would benefit most from the information given.
Now, Law, as well as many others are doing their best to not let instances of racism be “let go” and rather hold the students accountable for their actions. Starting a conversation about diversity and inclusion as a community is where the change will start.