Press-Republican

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March 16, 2014

Students, faculty gather to change college culture

PLATTSBURGH — Winter Storm Vulcan managed to stop SUNY Plattsburgh classes but was not strong enough to hold back a student movement led by the black student union.

AKEBA’s sudden surge to hold a rally aiming for immediate change in the college culture was sparked by the use of the N word on the invite list for a fraternity party last week.

Ramon Dario Sanchez, a new member of Nu Theta Gamma, admitted he used the word. 

After it became public, he apologized, saying he used the epithet “without considering the historical background of the word.”

Friday, he said he felt there was still some tension around the situation, but he made sure to attend the Wednesday’s Time for Change rally.

‘DON’T BE A BYSTANDER’

Around 100 people, mostly students and faculty, gathered in the Warren Ballrooms at the Angell College Center for the event.

AKEBA President Michael Haynes, who’d seen the list and its wording then took action, reinforced in his opening remarks that they were gathered there not to attack anyone, but to change the existing culture around campus.

“It is in times like these that we need to challenge racism, sexism” and other forms of prejudice they see there, he said.

Haynes followed his speech by getting the crowd involved singing a chant.

“One, two, three, four, we won’t take this anymore!”

AKEBA member Rodney Ambroise dedicated his speech to the issue of people being bystanders rather than taking action. 

He said it is not OK to watch somebody get hurt and not do a thing about it.

‘CONQUER HATE’

“Break the silence, stop the violence,” was the chant Anthony Dorcena prompted the audience after he encouraged people to speak out and get their voices heard.

“Challenge friends, challenge peers, conquer hate, conquer fear,” Lateef Wearrien recited with the crowd after speaking about the importance of confronting even friends about injustices as deep and important as racism.

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