Dear Future Panthers


NICK FISHER, Executive Editor

“I want to know that, if I’m sitting in class and someone’s whispering like, ‘this nigger needs to go back to her home; go back to her continent,’ and I tell my administration that, they’re not just going to write it off and put it in a drawer like it’s another sob story,” said Melanie Majeed, freshman marketing and management major. “I’m not just a check. I could’ve went somewhere else and got the same education and been able to enjoy myself.”

In light of the decision by members of Ethnic Student Promoters (ESP) to boycott an open house focusing on multicultural recruitment, held by UNI, ESP, the Black Student Union, Hispanic Latino Student Union (HLSU) and other multicultural student organizations arranged an open forum Thursday for students to discuss their experiences with discrimination.

Majeed was one of some 80 students who gathered to share their experiences.

Chloey Arispe, freshman elementary education major, was another.

“We can’t change what [individual] students think,” said Arispe. “I mean, when I hand out a flyer for the baile and someone goes, ‘Oh, this is just a beaner thing,’ I can’t control what’s coming out of their mouth. But I want [to]; I want to control what happens when I report it — when I say, ‘Hey, I’m not feeling comfortable.’”

Arispe said she had multiple encounters with her roommate that made her feel uncomfortable, including her roommate objecting to her playing Spanish-language music and telling others that Arispe was in her room “doing her Mexican stuff.”

However, according to Arispe, her RA  insisted that she sit down with her roommate to settle the incident. Arispe said that, because the sit-down occurred, it’s difficult for her to formally report the incident because it is considered settled.

Darian Jones, junior accounting major, said there are subtle “insensitivities in the culture” around UNI.

Jones said he was in a suit in the Curris Business building, and an administrator asked why he was dressed up. When Jones replied that he was getting his picture taken to be featured in an article, the administrator said, “Oh, so you’re an athlete.”

“My problem with it is that, if I was a white boy and dressed up in a suit, would she have asked me the same question?” Jones said.

Hansen Breitling, senior philosophy major, said there were three goals for the forum: to gather a comprehensive list of stories of discrimination and unequal treatment, brainstorm possible solutions to aid the university in their attempts to address the problem and have students identify allies within staff and faculty.

Other students shared their stories, including Reggie Torian, freshman marketing major, whose mother was called a racial slur at a Cedar Falls McDonald’s.

“It’s just to the point where I don’t want them [my family] to come up here,” Torian said, “because it’s like, ‘What are they going to say? What are they going to say?’”

The three-hour forum mostly focused on personal stories of discrimination, but students did float ideas to help solve the problems.

Dylan Keller, graduate history student, called for more diverse representation in NISG. He also expressed the need for multicultural events to reach out to white students for attendance.

Others called for more diverse representation in university administration, including a president of color.

Perhaps the issue that received the most disagreement was whether multicultural organizations should have one space or a shared space, such as the CME.

Some said the CME has been the place for students to meet but has encountered trouble with students not going to the CME with concerns.

Alisha Thompson, senior political science and global studies double major, who works at the CME, said that it is “in a state of flux” right now and that this is the time for students to vocalize their concerns.

Thompson acknowledged that the CME may have seemed like “a Band-Aid” solution, but its new mission, expressed in an email from President Ruud last week, should make it more of a resource for students going forward.

Others disagreed, with one student going so far as to say that the CME is a used as a way to control UNI’s multicultural population.

Breitling, who acted as a moderator for the forum, asked why the university couldn’t have separate spaces for each group as well as a shared space.

Jamya Valentine, senior psychology and criminology double major, wasn’t sure there is a solution.

“Once something is that deeply rooted, what can you do besides provide support to those around you who feel the same way?” Valentine said. “There’s nothing we can do besides be there for one another… Because the people with the power do not care.”