Members of the Shippensburg University community gathered on Zoom Thursday afternoon for students to discuss their experiences with race on campus.
The Office of Equity, Inclusion and Compliance hosted the Zoom listening session with Kara Laskowski, human communication studies department chair, moderating the discussion. Laskowski filled the place of Chief Diversity Officer Stephanie Jirard, who could not attend because of other obligations.
“We are here today to listen,” Laskowski said. “To students who, in their collegiate life, have encountered incidents of microaggression, overt racism and other forms of identity injury.”
After Laskowski’s introduction, students were given the opportunity to tell their own stories. Jasmine Jones told her story first.
Jones spoke about an incident in the on-campus UPS store at the beginning of the semester. Jones said she went to the store with some friends to pick up a package. There was a long line, and as she waited, Jones noticed a trend occurring at the counter.
“There were three Black people in the store,” Jones said. “And the person working the counter gave everyone their packages but only asked the Black people to see their ID.”
Jones said the incident made her and her friends feel uncomfortable.
Officials said students picking up packages at the campus UPS store are required to show their student ID before receiving any packages. Jones understood this rule but wondered why everyone in the store was not asked to show their student ID except for the Black students.
“I feel like there’s not a lot of people that are socially aware of what’s going on here,” Jones said. “I feel if people were more aware of their surroundings, they would be more cautious about what they do, because it is making people of my color feel uncomfortable.”
Danielle Williams, a Student Government Association (SGA) Multicultural Student Affairs senator, shared her concerns about the lack of action in combating racism.
“Teachers say they want to be there for us and help, but its just a conversation sometimes,” Williams said. “This is a great event Dr. Jirard put on, but I hope it continues after 4 p.m. today because, honestly, that’s just how it goes.”
Williams continued to express her desire to see words turn to action.
“It’s great that we keep throwing around the word ‘change’ and talking about what needs to be done,” Williams said. “But I want to see consistency, seriously.”
Political science professor Alison Dagnes, expanded on Williams’ thoughts and acknowledged that social injustice has been ignored.
“We are at a point in history where change hasn’t come,” Dagnes said. “In many ways, the country has moved backwards.”
Dagnes went on to explain that, from her perspective as a political science professor, the current movement for social justice feels different.
“I feel like this is different,” Dagnes said. “Politically it is different, the conversations are different, and I see the movement is different. It feels like big change can come.”