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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

Hundreds Gather for “Speak Up” Event at MSU

The Black Bear

It was a much different tone during Saturday’s second Speak Up event on the Missouri State campus, as hundreds gathered for a lively discussion on race relations two weeks after an organization’s silent protest over homecoming weekend. KSMU’s Simone Cook has more.

The two-hour forum inside the Carrington Hall auditorium examined the first Blackout demonstration on Oct. 18, which was intended to start a dialog on local relations in the aftermath of recent fatal police shootings, notably in Ferguson. But the Homecoming event was met with some anger and racial slurs.

Dr. Ken Coopwood, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, was at Saturday’s discussion, which featured dozens of students, faculty and MSU administrators.

“I feel the current state is one that needs attention way beyond the constructs of race, and beyond those constructs into systemic factors that make race all the more relevant in the experience of all MSU constituents,” Coopwood said.

Robert Coyler, an MSU student and one of the organizers of the Blackout protest, believes that race relations are currently high because of the lack of cultural perspective brought to campus.

“Students bring culture here, and if we aren’t targeting students that can bring different cultures and different perspectives, these issues aren’t going to change.  This campus is predominantly white, so we’re not going to hear a lot of problems or a lot of discussion about racism, because Euro-Americans don’t experience racism as much as the other demographics,” Coyler said.

Coyler believes that one of the surest ways to address race issues is to increase the population of other demographics on MSU’s campus, as well as make diversity a keystone for the campus.

“Gain culture from the increasing of those demographics and making sure that diversity is one of the cornerstones of this campus.  So we are reaching out to administrators about ways to bring more diverse students on to this campus and that’s just the first of many steps we are speaking out to alleviate or snap out racism all entirely in the Springfield community and the Missouri State Community.”

Prior to the conclusion of Saturday’s event, attendees were asked to fill out a brief questionnaire so the group could learn the best means by which to keep those interested in the movement up to date.

To get involved or find out more information on the Blackout organization, you can call the office of Diversity and Inclusion at 417-836-3736.