BGSU employee posting racist comments sparks campus protest

Ryan Dick and Ryan Dick

In response to a BGSU employee posting racist comments on a Facebook Live video, BGSU faculty, students and community members protested for action on Monday, organized by Dr. Rebecca Skinner Green.

It started at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union courtyard with a nine-minute vigil and ended at the McFall Center, where President Rodney Rogers’ office is located. Demonstrators faced his office window and chanted “Black Lives Matter” continuously for over four minutes before dispersing.

“We, as faculty need to stand up for our community, our black students, staff, and faculty colleagues, to let them see that we will not stand for this type of behavior within our midst, and that we demand a strong response from the university administrators,” Skinner Green, an associate professor of art history, said in an email.

While the event was faculty-led, there were also BGSU students and community members in attendance.

Bowling Green resident Carol Kinsey protested alongside faculty and students.

“Things have gotten worse and worse, and I think more action than ever before is what we have to do … Presence matters,” Kinsey said.

“I trust our administration to do what’s right and help out people when they need help,” Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Fan Engagement Taylor Jefferson said.

BGSU Athletics Director Bob Moosbrugger was also in attendance, showing support for the community and student-athletes at BGSU.

For those that were unable to attend, Associate Professor Sheri Wells-Jensen posted a live stream of the event on her Facebook page. The stream had over 1,700 views and is posted on her page for those who want to watch the entire protest.

“I have not yet heard the BG administration say, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ If we were a community in which our leadership consistently said ‘Black Lives Matter’ and made strong statements about race, racists and people who would threaten violence against people of color would not stand things they say. They would understand that’s not acceptable here,” she said.

Anthony King, one of the founders of BRAVE — Black Rights, Activism, Visibility, Equity — was at the demonstration, and said the university should consistently monitor its employees social media pages for racist content.

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“Black concerns matter, Black students matter and racism should not be tolerated by any collegiate campus in the country,” King said.

The presence of protestors outside President Rogers’ office window went unacknowledged by the administration. According to The Blade, Rogers said he was in a Zoom meeting at the time of the protest and that “No one invited any of us to come down.” 

But King said the administration and the President should have joined in on the demonstration.

“The administration of Bowling Green should have started this protest, they should be here, President Rogers should be here, the Dean of Students should be here, the admission staff, they should all be here supporting Black lives,” he said. 

According to The Blade, the protest brought together over 150 people. The group of protestors disbanded after roughly a half-hour of demonstrating.

BGSU freshman Damon Sherry created an online petition to make sure students’ voices are heard.

Part of the petition reads, “We as students, staff and community at BGSU want to ensure that ALL students on campus and in the community are safe from discrimination and prejudices against them. We ask that BGSU take the proper action that is necessary for these changes as well as address the situation at hand.”

In addition to today’s demonstration, faculty are considering planning future events in the coming weeks to raise awareness of the social justice issues on campus.