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Stockton University students, faculty march to continue movement for equality
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Stockton University students, faculty march to continue movement for equality

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GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The Stockton University Student Senate wanted to remind the community that the fight against injustice is continuing well beyond the events of last summer.

On Saturday, the Student Senate organized a march and rally for Black History Month. University President Harvey Kesselman, along with members of the Division of Student Affairs and former congressional candidate Amy Kennedy, were invited to speak during the rally.

Festivities began at the Campus Center Terrace with the singing of the Black National Anthem by Highest Praise Gospel Choir Vice President Jesus Barnes. After introductory remarks from sophomore Irenonsen Eigbe, the Student Senate chairperson of government affairs and lead organizer of the event, Kesselman spoke about the importance of fostering an inclusive environment within the university.

“As for Stockton, we are committed to doing better at every aspect of our community because doing better falls on the shoulder of every stakeholder at every single level,” Kesselman said in front of a crowd of a few dozen people. “This is why we proclaim our commitment to dismantling systemic racism; this is why we are infusing race and racial justice throughout our curriculum.”

Eigbe then led the procession around the campus after additional remarks from Vice President of Student Affairs Christopher Catching and Student Senator Benjamin Dziobek. Those in attendance started chants of “no justice, no peace,” “Black lives matter” and “the people united will never be divided” along most of the route, which was nearly 2 miles.

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“(The rally) was really important because we’re still constantly seeing on social media (that) there are still issues happening with all different races,” said Eigbe, a biology major. “(There are) issues around the country that aren’t being addressed the way they should.”

The day concluded with several other speakers once the crowd returned to the terrace.

Donnetrice Allison, a professor of Africana studies at the university, has sent a proposal to the state Senate for “The R Attribute,” a required university course across all fields that examines the role of racism within them.

“(Racism) is in every field, and that’s something that you guys need to learn about,” Allison said. “Every major that you have, you need to spend some time talking about how racism is at play within this major.

“There was a time where we were falsely being taught that Blacks were biologically not as smart as others. That’s something that you need to learn about in your biology class.”

Allison, a member of the university’s Council of Black Faculty and Staff, also touched on the importance of Black students seeking out Black teachers, and vice versa, to connect with them. She recalled being a member of the Black Student Union at the university she attended when she learned the first Black teacher had just been hired. By the next semester, she said the entire union had registered for the teacher’s class in African-American literature.

“We needed her and we sought her out,” Allison said. “Don’t wait. Take initiative. I literally poked my head in the door and said, ‘Hi, my name is (Donnetrice) and I’m here,’ and to this day she’s a mentor for me. I still call her when I’m trying to determine if I should make this move or that move, and I’m talking 30-something years later.”

Contact Ahmad Austin:

609-272-7404

AAustin@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressAustin

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