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Addressing the issue: accountability is necessary for actual change

by The Stylus Staff
Tue, Sep 5th 2017 11:00 pm

If you've been on the internet then you most likely have seen headlines, Facebook posts and tweets with the name Charlottesville included in bold. If you aren't someone who makes it their job to read any further into current events you might not know what all of this media attention is about. As this is an event which has thrown the entire country into a period of self-doubt and self-reflection, it is important to know just what happened and what have been the results thus far. 

It began on Saturday, Aug. 12 when white nationalists flocked to Charlottesville, Virginia for a "Unite the Right" march. Counter-protesters gathered along the march's designated route to stand up for what they believed in. At about 1:45 p.m. a car going about 80 miles-per-hour charged at a group of them, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, a paralegal from Charlottesville and injuring many others, according to a CNN article "A Guide to the Charlottesville Aftermath". 

For reasons still unknown, a police helicopter monitoring the violent demonstrations on Saturday erupted in flames and ultimately crashed, killing both Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, who was piloting the aircraft and his partner Trooper Berke Bates instantly upon impact. There is no doubt, no matter who you side with, that the events in Charlottesville were far from peaceful and displayed the distinct divide in our country in regards to social beliefs/morals. 

Some of you may view what happened in Charlottesville as an isolated demonstration, that what happened there would never happen anywhere near our secluded campus. The truth, however, is that it is entirely too possible for a "Unite the Right"-esque march to be replicated on our doorstep. Simply visiting the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) website, splcenter.org, and taking a look at the map the civil rights organization has put together shows that less than 45 minutes away in Lockport, New York resides a registered branch of the Racial Nationalist Party of America, and that groups like the Militant Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the National Socialist Movement have state-wide presence. 

If you still can't imagine such an offensive and blatant display of racism and anti-Semitism happening in Brockport, take a look back at what happened on The College at Brockport campus last year when The Stylus covered the racial graffiti placed in a middle-quad residential hall here on-campus. We're not going to bring up what the message itself stated again, however, as The Stylus correspondent Kiara Alfonseca reported in the article, "Racist threat found in Gordon Hall" this message meant a federal investigation taking place and serious self-reflection on campus. 

The majority of our editorials last year dealt with diversity and inclusivity as it pertained to various events and realities present at the college. This editorial is not addressing one specific incident that has happened on campus recently but rather what has been done and what still needs to be done in the wake of last year. The "Bias Related Incident Reporting" process is a step college administration has taken in trying to allow those who've felt silenced to be heard. 

The term 'bias related' refers to language and/or behaviors which demonstrate bias against persons because of, but not limited to, others' actual or perceived: race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, creed, age, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, medical condition, body size, disability, marital status, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, veteran status, domestic violence victim status, ex-offender status and/or socioeconomic status," according to Cephas Archie's mass email sent out on Wednesday, Aug. 30. The reason for the email was that within the first three days or so that classes were in session, a bias related incident was reported. This proves that this new system is available and working but it also shows the amount of progress we still have left to make if we all cannot co-exist for even a week before someone makes someone else feel inferior because of who they are.

Over the summer semester President Heidi Macpherson, in collaboration with the Brockport Student Government and a few other organizations, was able to take the strategic plan, which was being promoted all last year and transform it into the operational plan which is already being implemented. 

The final version of Brockport's strategic plan is separated into four premises: mission, vision, values and the Brockport promise. The mission statement is: "The College at Brockport is an inclusive learning community that inspires excellence through growth, engagement, and transformation." 

What was added in the strategic plan that stands out is the aspects of inclusivity and transformation promising current and future students cultural competency and all-around progress. The operational plan is meant to take what is seemingly only words in the startegic plan and make it a reality. Administration and legislation can only do so much to translate messages of aspiration into messages of  inspiration. 

As students we have to stop beating around the bush and hold ourselves accountable for our actions and our thoughts.

In a world where the President of the United States cannot directly state what happened in Charlottesville when protestors on both sides of the social/political spectrum know that the alt-right, also known as Neo-Nazis, were responsible for murder, the injury of people and property, and outright threatening of numerous minority groups, means that as citizens of this country and this community we have to be even more aware of what is happening around us and what we are contributing to that.

It is up to us to ensure that what happened last year on this campus, what is continuing to happen on this campus despite the administration's good intentions and what has the potential of happening on this campus does not resurge moving forward in the future.