Florida State’s Black Student Union holds ‘Black Out’ march in protest of racist events on campus

Roughly 65 students and other advocates marched during an FSU football game Saturday in response to recent racially-charged events targeting Black students and other students of color at FSU

In response to a string of racially charged events across Florida State University’s campus, Black students marched alongside allies and advocates on Saturday to demand accountability and reform.

Participants called for the institution to ramp up anti-racism efforts and initiatives following multiple racist events on or near campus, including the hanging of multiple posters on Sept. 30 promoting a “KKK meeting,” as well as students of color reportedly experiencing harassment over seating at football games and more, per FSUNews.com.

On Saturday, during FSU’s football matchup versus Syracuse, the FSU Black Student Union led roughly 65 students, faculty and staff in a march across campus holding signs and chanting messages such including “No More Excuses” and “My Life Matters,” according to FSUNews.com. Additionally, participants were asked to wear all-black outfits to “black out” the stands at the football game as a way to increase awareness, WCTV reported.

“Right now we just want to reaffirm Black students in this space on campus,” BSU President Jazé Shaw-Young told FSUNews.com. “There have been a few instances where students haven’t felt safe or haven’t felt like they belong, and I wanted to bring attention to that issue and try to move the needle on accountability measures and change.” 

Shaw-Young told WCTV those suggested measures included campus-wide alerts and specialized resources in the event of a hate crime and case managers who understand the experiences of Black students and other students of color.

BSU membership co-chair Rebeckah Anestin told FSUNews.com she wants security cameras to be installed in certain spaces across campus, adding that “instead of coming up with an excuse as to why these things can’t happen, we want to see things done.” 

FSU President Richard McCullough responded in a letter to students condemning all acts of racism and bigotry on campus and describing the efforts he and other university officials are taking to create a more inclusive campus environment.

“Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion on campus is among my top priorities,” McCullough said. “Florida State University has made great strides in improving the campus climate in recent years, but it’s become clear to me that we have work to do to ensure that every student, faculty and staff member feels respected, safe and valued.”

“There have been a few incidents this fall that are antithetical to the values that Florida State University holds dear,” he added. “I abhor racism and discrimination, and it has no place here.”

McCullough said he has met with Black students as well as the university’s Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion Task Force to hear their concerns and listen to recommendations for new initiatives to implement and ways to strengthen existing efforts.

Among the FSU faculty members marching alongside students in solidarity was Karen Oehme, chair of the university’s Student Resilience Project.

“We want to build strong students,” Oehme told FSUNews.com. “Anti-racism is an essential part of building that strength for these students on campus. We believe in an inclusive campus, and so I wanted to come out here and stand with them on behalf of the project.”

“Sometimes at a PWI (predominantly white institution), it can be easy to feel like you don’t belong or you’re not important because you don’t look like the majority of the student body,” Shaw-Young told FSUNews.com. “But as Black Student Union president, my biggest hope and wish is that students can feel comfortable here and feel ready to excel and thrive academically, because that’s what they come here for.”

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