By Logan Hullinger
INDIANA –- On Thursday night, Indiana University of Pennsylvania administrators, faculty members and students doubled down on campus efforts to fight discrimination, during a “Vigil for Inclusion” in front of the campus library. The group held light sticks against a damp, windy night with temperatures in the mid-30s.
IUP President Michael A. Driscoll addressed the group and repeated the phrase “the IUP way,” a refrain borrowed from his hour-long Nov. 11 mid-semester speech. That speech defined the phrase as “we know how to disagree with respect and civility . . . The IUP way is what sets us apart from everyone and everywhere else, so it seems right now.”
Rachelle R. Bouchat, an assistant professor of mathematics, and Theodore M. “Ted” Cogar, assistant director of student conduct and LGBTQIA advocacy, organized the event.
It was the second of the day at the spot overlooking the Oak Grove. Earlier in the afternoon, the Racial Justice Coalition for Change led another in a series of monthly Stand Against Racism events that began in January.
“Each of us is a person of worth,” Driscoll told the silent, attentive evening crowd of more than 60. “Everyone deserves a seat at our table and a voice in our dialogue. We treat each other with respect and dignity, and we can discuss and debate ideas with civility.”
Several other speakers were invited to the demonstration, including Frederick Mosby, a representative for the Frederick Douglass Institute, a collaborative program at the 14 campuses of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
Mosby cited the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“He believed in an America where people would not be judged by the color of their skin but rather by the content of their character,” Mosby said.
Mosby said “huge strides” have been made in racial acceptance. But he added, “We still have a long way to go.”
He cited as evidence the 2015 viral video of University of Oklahoma fraternity members chanting about lynching African-Americans, among other racial slurs.
Christine D. Baker, a history professor at IUP, said the demonstration addressed religious discrimination as well as racial discrimination.
“Hate crimes against Muslims have spiked recently,” said Baker, who spent five years living in the Middle East. “I want to help strengthen connections to the Muslim community, especially at IUP. Discrimination cannot be tolerated.”
Logan Hullinger, a sophomore journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from Clarion, is a staff reporter for The HawkEye. He can be contacted at L.R.Hullinger@iup.edu.