“Not On Our Campus” themed College Coffee turns to a “Now What?” discussion thanks to outspoken students

By Stuart Jones

President Lambert and Vice President Smith Jackson engage in discussion with the students asking the question "Now What?"

An unprecedented 2,500 people, according to University Relations, were in attendance at College Coffee this morning to support the “Not On Our Campus” campaign and to hear what President Lambert had to say about the two incidents so far.

The “Not On Our Campus” campaign is a direct result of two incidents where African-American students had racial slurs yelled at them as a car passed them by, within a few days of each other.

“These events have started happening and they’re not isolated incidents, they’re back-to-back,” says Candice Blacknall, a senior. “So now the question is ‘Now what?’ What do we do if this continues to be an occurrence? What do we do protect the students that are here and what do we do to ensure students’ safety?”

Blacknall was the leader of the group of students that gathered together to ask Dr. Lambert the question “Now what?” This group of students was notated by wearing white shirts with the question “Now what?” written on them.

Once Dr. Lambert and Vice President Jackson finished their speeches, Blacknall took the opportunity to speak up and ask Dr. Lambert “Now what?” as well as other questions pertaining to the future safety of students.

Not a single student moved while awaiting the president’s response.

“I don’t know if everybody was ready for a little exchange, but that’s good. I think it raised the issue up to another level at least with our students,” says Phil Smith, associate chaplain and director of religious life. “It was good to see students engaged and wanting to ask questions and have response. And they were good questions about safety and what should a person do [if they are subject to a similar incident]? And I hope they got the answer, to call 911 and make sure it’s reported and let the administration work that process out through the Judicial Office of Student Conduct.”

Smith was encouraged to see that Dr. Lambert came forward and talked with Blacknall after speaking and offered to “keep this conversation going” by gathering people to discuss the future actions of the university.

-Check back later for more pictures and video of the event.

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