University’s Ethnic Student Center, consisting of students and faculty, talk about national issues every Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Audrey Quinn and Audrey Quinn

In part one of a discussion series put on by the University’s Ethnic Student Center, students and faculty met Wednesday, Sept. 10 to discuss the events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri this past month.

Derron Borders, graduate coordinator for multicultural education in the office of Multicultural Affairs, hopes students were able to come with an open mind.

“What we try to do in these discussions is promote awareness and understanding of multiple issues that are pretty current,” he said.

Wednesday night’s discussion, led by Tobias Spears, assistant director for LGBTQA+ Programs, centered on the death of Mike Brown on Aug. 9 and the subsequent month of widespread protests and calls to action against police brutality.

Discussions included the role social media had in the coverage of Mike Brown’s death, such as the Twitter hashtag, “#IfTheyGunnedMeDown,” in which black people juxtaposed pictures of themselves doing something deemed by society as good next to something that is bad, Spears said.

The role of due process was also brought up, with some members of the discussion wondering why the police officer involved in the shooting is “innocent until proven guilty” but Mike Brown was not. The fact that we need to wait for justice for so long in this case is a problem, Spears said.

“Quite often, it is minority bodies when we ‘wait for the facts’”, he said.

The politics of respectability were also brought up, where minorities are held to a higher standard than white people, who are considered the default human, said Spears.

Junior Angela Li was at the discussion. “I think it helped me to understand the situation in a much more complex and validating way,” she said.

For students that wish to talk about sensitive issues concerning race or identity in America, Spears encouraged them to find a group of friends that they feel safe to have a real conversation with.

“I encourage people to continue dialogue by talking about these things … by talking about these things, we grow,” said Spears.

Krishna Han, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, welcomed students to come back to the Ethnic Student Center to discuss anything.

“This is a place and a space for underprivileged students,” said Han.

Han also encouraged students who are not necessarily educated to still come to the upcoming discussions. Sharing knowledge is very important and diversity of perspectives plays an important role, he said.

The discussion series will be held every Wednesday at 5 p.m. in 318 Math and Sciences.