There are no words to describe the anger, confusion, and disappointment that is circulating amongst the student body at our institution. Our Jesuit values have been called into question, the safety of our students is being second-guessed, and our student leaders are becoming fed up with the lack of action on the administration’s behalf. This is about so much more than the hate crime that occurred on campus, it’s about so much more than the threat to the safety of LGTBQIA, people of color, female, and non-Christian Americans and Canisius students under Donald Trump’s Presidency. This is about a fundamental ignorance that is being allowed to palpitate the halls of this campus and the streets of the world. We are taught to be just and fair and to care for others around us, but it takes a student-run protest to get administration to wake up and realize that they aren’t handling the problems at the school with the urgency that is necessary.
Our students are scared. That is not some “whiny”, “liberal,” dramatization of events, it’s a fact. Students are walking on campus with knives for protection. It’s not just because of the hate crime, it’s because we do not trust our administration or Public Safety to take care of us. It has been made clear that they care more about PR than they do about student safety. They strive for diversification after students beg and plead and complain. They begin to address the need for sexual-assault intervention training after students had become outraged over incidents of sexual assault. They give us the full information regarding the hate crime after student outcry demands it of them. It should not take Undergraduate Student Association President Elias Ayoub calling “bullshit” on behalf of the administration’s handling of the event in order for them to do something. The Griffin is sick of our school only acting when they feel it’s detrimental to the school’s reputation not to.
We are told as prospective students that Public Safety always patrols our campus. We are the second safest neighborhood in Buffalo, NY. If you need a ride late at night or feel unsafe in any way, you can contact the officers at Public Safety and they will accommodate you.
There have been multiple incidents, from H. Will Johnson undermining the impact and intent of the hate crime to students calling public safety multiple times late at night because they feel unsafe walking the quad, only to have their calls ignored and resorting to walking alone after 45 minutes of waiting, to students openly admitting that they wouldn’t feel comfortable going to Public Safety or administration about their sexual assaults because they didn’t believe anything would come of it. This is not about accommodating our students, this is about selling a positive and safe image to students, only to take it away when it’s inconvenient for them.
This isn’t just Public Safety’s fault.
While The Griffin commends Canisius President and former Griffin Editor John J. Hurley for finally giving the students what they had been asking for in his e-mail Thursday afternoon, it isn’t enough. Sure, he has worked with Afro and USA and has hopes and aspirations to making the campus culture more ethnically diverse. But it’s not moving quickly enough. Tangible results are not happening. Every day that administration fails to address to ever-growing problem of racism on and off campus, it fails its student body. We deserve better than that.
Of course, they’ll probably start to do something now. Canisius is making headlines. We’re being featured everywhere from The Buffalo News to CNN to the trending topics on Facebook. Not for our incredible accounting programs or the positive contributions our students have made to the community, but for the hatred and bigotry that occurred on our campus. That’s damaging to students, sure, but is it important to administration for that reason? Or is it because we are going through a PR crisis that it is going to affect enrollment and donations? Administration hasn’t done a good enough job proving that it’s the latter.
Maybe our anger is ill-directed and maybe Public Safety and administration both actually have the student’s best-interests at heart. Regardless, not enough has been done, and the student body is sick of it.
The Griffin would like to formally apologize to all of the students on campus who feel unsafe right now. Regardless of political affiliation or ideology, nobody deserves to be threatened in their own home. We are your home for expressing your sentiments, and it is our job to make sure that your stories are told. As students, we will unite. If the school will not address these issues in a timely matter, it’s up to us to force them to move quicker.
It won’t be easy to return the campus to a climate of love and inclusiveness. It won’t be easy to gather as a community and focus on making sure that our fellow students feel safe and cared for. We have a lot on our plates. We balance clubs and classes, part-time jobs and internships, personal struggles at home and disappointment within our country and communities. The thought of dragging yourself out of bed to attend another event, fight for another cause, represent another issue, is exhausting. It’s not supposed to be our job to create and enforce campus culture; technically, our only job should be to show up to classes. But the safety of our fellow students is being called into question, so we get up, dust ourselves off, and fight to fix things.
Not because we have to, but because even when our school doesn’t represent our Jesuit values, we still individually choose to.
Take care of yourself, Canisius.