Student organizations marched on Georgia Southern University’s Statesboro campus Friday in protest of the university’s response to a student’s usage of the N-word in July.
Last summer, GS received national attention when screenshots depicting a GS student using the N-word in a message to her future roommate went viral.
Courtney Schaefer is a student athlete who sent the N-word to her roomate over the summer. In response to the incident, the university sent out an email informing students of the incident.
Screenshots widely used on social media depicted the sender as Courtney Schaefer. Posts further explained that Schaefer is a member of GS' swim team.
Protestors marched from Russell Union, down Forest Drive and to the RAC, where GS’ first home swim meet was being held at 4 p.m.
The march included crowds of people chanting and carrying signs that further explained their thoughts concerning the incident.
“New faces, same problem”
“Love, not hate, will make America great”
“No justice. No peace.”
“We woke. The system is broke.”
- "Black lives matter."
Keyshawn Housey, junior history major and Student Government Association member, led the march. Housey said that he was not surprised by the way the administration handled the situation.
“It will show that we are diligent, and our pursuit for justice, to stave waning injustice,” Housey said. “It shows that we don’t forget easily. We don’t forget easily injustice that occurred to us. We will keep going. We will continue to fight in more ways than one until it is resolved.”
Among the protesters was Taylor Collins, senior writing and linguistics major, who said he hopes the university will take notice of the protest.
“I hope that the university that claims to have a zero tolerance on racism will actually act on that, that will make me very happy,” Collins said. “I feel empowered. I feel like we’re voicing our opinion and bringing light to the issue everybody pretended just went away, and I’m happy for that."
Erin Maure, junior sociology major, shared similar thoughts.
“It’s blown up and gotten so much media coverage, and the school hasn’t really done anything about it,” Maure said.
Megan Siefert, freshman psychology major, said she believes Schaefer should be removed from the swim team and as a student of the university.
“I definitely, 100 percent, think she should have been kicked off the team. I feel like there should have been some form of punishment, and there wasn’t, and I think that’s a lot of the reason why a lot of people are angry,” Siefert said.
Zariah Cain, junior biology major, expressed concerns that, because the incident received media attention, it gives the university a negative look.
“We know how people feel about us on this campus, but for it to be blatant, for it to give Georgia Southern such a bad name out in the media, it shows that Georgia Southern, maybe, has a long way to go in order to get to this equality that they say that we have,” Cain said.
Arriving at the RAC
Protesters remained outside of the RAC and continued to chant while the swim meet was held inside.
Peter Egede, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, thanked the crowd for attending the march and gave a prayer.
Following the prayer, Housey said that he plans to introduce a new proposal to SGA next Wednesday.
“We have to keep going,” Housey said. “The resolution I am currently set to propose to the SGA, it focuses on education, of diversity and curriculum education. You can go your entire Georgia Southern experience without having a single course in diversity and inclusion.”
Housey said the lack of courses in diversity and inclusion is the reason why GS has incidents similar to the “triggerish" incident.
The protest concluded with a 30-second moment of silence.
Sit-in at the swim meet
Following the march, some of the protesters sat in at the swim meet that Schaefer participated in.
Of audience members questioned about the protest, only Kate Dunne, a parent of a swimmer at the meet, commented.
“It was very peaceful," Dunne said. "There wasn’t any drama.”
Outside the RAC, NAACP President Ashton Johnson said Georgia Southern has more than just a problem with the "triggersh" incident.
“Several things on this campus ain’t right, and it has to start with us not tolerating it, and that’s why we are here today," Johnson said. "We are here to make a message and show a voice as one black people united on this campus.”
To see more of the march, view the video below by The George-Anne Studio.
The following contributed to this article:
Blakeley Bartee, Reflector Magazine Editor-in-Chief
Kyle Clark, The George-Anne Candidate
Tori Collins, The George-Anne News Reporter
Matthew Enfinger, The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief
Elizabeth Gross, The George-Anne Candidate
Madison Martin, The George-Anne Candidate
Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Enterprise Reporter
Emma Smith, The George-Anne News Editor