Starting conversation: UD and DSU seek future relations
The university and Delaware State University’s (DSU) student government associations have plans to meet and discuss the current and future relations between the schools following racist remarks made on “Yik-Yak,” an anonymous social media app, during a football game four weeks ago.
SGA president Ben Page-Gil called this incident a conversation-starter that will allow for the two universities to come together and change their current relationship. Page-Gil said there was not much interaction between the two schools before the incident.
However, this situation has allowed them to partner to discuss what should be done to improve the relationship between the student bodies at the universities.
The two student governments are still in the process of finalizing a date for a face-to-face meeting. The meeting looks to include the presidents of other large student organizations on their respective campuses as well in order to ensure that the meeting is not exclusively made up of members from the student government associations.
“This is a unique experience to work with a sister institution within the state to address the needs of students at large,” Page-Gil said. “It’s unfortunate that this had to happen but it’s a way for us to come together.”
Seeking to develop a long-term relationship, discussion topics such as tuition prices, sexual assault and harassment on campuses will be brought up. These are things that affect college students no matter where they are, Page-Gil said. The student governments hope to establish annual or biannual meetings to partner up and address the issues.
The yaks sparking these discussions included racist comments toward Delaware State University students follwing the First State Cup on Sept. 7 and were “up-ed,” or favored, by those in the same geo-location. It is unknown whether the creators of the yaks were students or nonstudents.
Junior Arielle Labianca said she was shocked when reading the yaks and did not think they reflected the way most students at the university think.
“Personally I thought it was really, really bad PR for our school, not only PR but any kind of representation of our student body because it looks like that’s how a majority of us think,” Labianca said.
Students are speaking out against the yik-yak comments using the hashtag #DontStand4RacismUD on Twitter. Labianca says students owe Delaware State University a public apology.
President Harker sent an email to the university in response to the remarks the Thursday following the game. “This weekend’s incident is a sad reminder that we still have far to go to eliminate hate and prejudice from our campus,” he wrote.
However, Labianca believes Harker did not give the issue enough importance because he chose to issue the response via email as opposed to a video message, which would have been more powerful, she said.
Labianca said she hopes the meeting between the two student organizations will prove more successful at reducing tension between the two schools.
Looking to move forward, the two student governments and many students are standing up and looking to get the issues of diversity and racism out in the open.
“Me going down there and talking with them and planning to do things in the future will show more and hold more weight more than an apology would,” Page-Gil said.