ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio University students are hoping an important conversation about racism and inclusivity leads to change.
The conversation was held Monday after the university said it was investigating four potentially racially motivated incidents on campus last week.
Organizers of Monday’s town hall said what’s been reported on campus is a turning point showing change needs to happen.
Before, during, and after the meeting, one message was loud and clear: the university needs to do more to address these issues.
“We are now calling on you to make good on your commitment to help our students feel safe on campus,” said Ohio University freshman Giah Harper, one of the organizers of the town hall meeting.
According to police, a black doll was taped to a dorm room door, a bag of trach with a racial slur written on it was left at a door, a Black resident advisor’s door and property were urinated on, and an online threat of lynching was made.
Harper called the situation frightening and disheartening and wants to see Ohio University take more action.
“I think that OU has always tried to have a culture of inclusivity and we want to make sure that’s not just words,” Harper said. “We want to make sure that’s actually actions.”
The meeting was a chance for minority students to talk about times they’ve experienced racism or felt like they were not supported. Students shared stories of seeing Black History Month materials torn up in their residence halls, being called the “n” word, not feeling safe in their dorms, and feeling isolated in their studies.
“It’s a time for us to come together, to really identify solutions, that we work toward a more inclusive campus, so that’s really our goal,” said Gigi Secuban, vice-president for Diversity and Inclusion at Ohio University.
Many students talked about having enough of the emails and statements from the university, saying they want to be shown they are supported, and not just told so.
“We are not asking you to see us or feel us, but help us, and help our campus be the haven for diversity and inclusion it has committed to be,” Harper said.
Many at Monday’s meeting said they wanted to see the university offer more safe spaces for Black students on campus and wanting more Black professors and leaders hired at the school.
Faculty members, as well as the university president, were at the town hall.