[Guest Blog] Open Letter to NSU Housing

Welcome to my first guest blog! The below letter was written by Kadeem Hall, a student leader at Nova Southeastern University. While fulfilling his requirements as a summer housing assistant to decorate boards in the hallways of the dorms, he decided to use his position to advocate for a largely devastating social issue. He decorated a board to say “Black Lives Matter,” with corresponding words and images that depict the importance of the movement. Very quickly after, the school told him to take the decorations down because they are not relatable to the students present. This is absolutely appalling.

 

1-609VNoF33rafZaIeXDBjLA
Courtesy of Kadeem Hall

 

Black lives DO matter. Black people comprise nearly half of the total incarceration rate in the U.S. and are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of white people. There are multiple cases of cops killing innocent black people–in fact, just in the past week there were two new cases of this. [side note: I highly recommend watching “13th” on Netflix for a more thorough grasp of this terrible phenomena]

When it comes to raising awareness on issues such as this, it is up to college students. For years, children are taught they have the power to change the world with a single voice. They are praised for standing up for those who can’t. But when the matter arises in an educational institution, it refuses to take a stance on important matters because it is too controversial and the school can only thrive off external funds from donors who are generally conservative.

I highly suggest reading Kadeem’s letter below. Share it with your peers and comment below to make it known that we cannot and will not stand for racial injustice.

Hello all.

Thank you. For your time, your concern, and your efforts. You’re here for a reason and whatever that reason, I am thankful. I want for you to take a peek into my story and use it to empower yourself and all things positive.

June 19th, 2017

In so many ways, I’ve prided myself on you. That’s MY school. But I see now where it is necessary to have a serious talk with you. This in no way is a critique to claim that you have no strengths because you are a mighty institution. I’ve grown here. Learned here. I’ve been on TV here. I’ve become a next level leader here. I’ve impressed my family here. Made the world of connections here. I’m your BSU President, Writing Fellow, President’s 64 Member, Razor’s Edge Leadership Scholar, and Summer Housing Assistant. I literally, like, love you. However, my problem is not how you provide any opportunities for me, but how you stand by me and support me when I need you.

Now, no surprise here, I’ve chosen to spend my second consecutive summer with you. Like I told you, I literally, like, love you. As a part of me being here, you required me to decorate seven boards with information relevant to young newcomers. Two were decorated with information about our campus and local businesses, one had information about myself, 3 others were left with what the Winter RA’s created, and one had the message “Black Lives Matter” displayed across it. Fifteen days after it was finished, and 12 days after its due date, you called me into the housing office and among other concerns, stated that this is not what was asked of me.

You told me that this is not what NSU wants to offer younger campers. That it is not relevant to the information I was asked to display, or to their experience here. You told me that for these campers, we are not trying to display what is relevant in the world, just information.

How frightening it is that these statements are considered a norm here and allowable.

How is it that at a University campus, we would encourage anything but the publicizing of such ideas and information? We pride ourselves on having a minority majority, but NSU you need to realize that having us here isn’t enough. Why is it noteworthy to have a minority majority population? Because of the systematic and social disadvantages that minorities face within this country. You show that you want to provide an opportunity for all who are able, regardless of background. Now, I applaud your focus on getting us here, but. You must ensure that we are not just another tool for enrollment. You must support us. You must dedicate resources to us. You must focus on us. Please make sure that you don’t just put us in your brochures and ignore our realities.

You tell me that I am a stronger employee and have always been seen as one, but that a message that confronts a serious problem that faces minorities, need be removed. When it is time to discuss students who lead boldly and bring a good name to hard work at NSU, I am honored that I am part of the conversation. But when I portray the message that reinforces the importance of Black Lives, it is seen as outside of the scope of what was asked. I am here to push that idea back into the dangerous corner that it escaped from. At this University, attention to the issues that put minorities in any questionable position should be yelled. Boldly. Students should be congratulated for this message being displayed.

As you applaud me for the skill that I offer and thank me for the benefits that those skills bring you, you tear me down when I respect the history and love that is myself. Less than one full month after being named Undergraduate Student President of The Year, the very message that the organization that I lead promotes was seen as unrelated to campers, resulting in its need to be taken down. It makes me question if you appreciate me and my voice, or what it does for you and your reputation. I want NSU to define policy and have a firm stance on what it is we will portray and allow. Students are assigned floors as Residential Assistants and Summer Housing Assistants. It should be expected that they express ideas, history, and national movements, especially ones that relate to minority issues. It would be odd if they didn’t.

At the end of the day, I wanted to feel understood. I will continue to fight. We need a Minority Office. BSU will continue to grow. I want NSU to begin to appreciate this message in all respects because black lives will always matter. Housing, I truly feel like a piece of me came down with my board. I saw myself as a vital piece to my team and to the campers that I could impact while here, so I took my board down while holding onto the promise that it could be reposted in the fall. NSU benchmarks against seven Universities, Emory, Temple, and Vanderbilt University being three of those. Each of these three have public structures (Like walls in the middle of a field that solely say “white people. do something.”) or statements that support Black Lives Matter purposes and initiatives. The University of Vermont, Illinois State University, and Northwestern University all have, at some point, erected a Black Lives Matter flag on their main campuses. I hold a pride higher than no other to be a Shark. So, NSU, I patiently wait on the day in which we drop this idea of conservatism in a comfortable corner, and begin embracing fighting for what’s right, and challenging systematic and social norms that oppress the majority of your population.

– Fins Up, Kadeem Hall.

See his post on Medium. Have any suggestions or comments? Post ’em below. 

Embrace the Challenge

Not all the opportunities that arise instantly fill you with joy. Sometimes, opportunities make you feel anxious, scared, and may even seem impossible. The funny thing about those opportunities, however, is that those are the ones that change you forever.

I have never been great at public speaking. I tense up, my face turns the color of a fresh tomato, and I somehow manage to develop a stutter and an interminable eye twitch. But when I was offered the chance to be the keynote speaker at my university’s International Women’s Day Colloquium, I couldn’t turn down the chance.

This speech is going to be one of the single most challenging moments of my life, but fulfilling this task is the opportunity of a lifetime. If it doesn’t challenge you, then it doesn’t change you, and I am at the point in my life where I am challenging myself to be open to change.

With graduating college in a few months and seeing everything that’s happening in the world around me, it’s more important now than ever before to choose to be a voice. I am choosing to share my voice–no matter how stuttered it will sound–to get the message across that this is the time to be bold. Regretting yesterday is no longer the answer and procrastinating until tomorrow is no longer the solution.

So, this Wednesday marks the first day of my embrace to change. From now on, no stone shall go unturned and no opportunity shall not be seized. Everyone says that any individual can change the world, but far too many forget to include themselves in that equation.

Bold is beautiful.

CLICK HERE for more info on the colloquium.

Life of a Student Journalist

Write.
Take a sip of coffee.
Interview.
Another sip of coffee.
Write a hell of a lot more.
Time for a hell of a lot more coffee.

Writing is no joke, especially when you want to thoroughly report on a story. It takes more patience than you could imagine, and the backspace and undo keys become your best friend (besides that that very durable coffee mug).

Being a student and a journalist is definitely not for those who tire quickly and cannot sit for long periods of time. The majority of my day is spent right here, staring at my computer screen, completing class discussions and coming up with questions for my next interview. It’s something that’s so fascinatingly tiring, yet simultaneously exhilarating, and surprisingly, is different every single day.

When your passion becomes your life, there is no amount of hard work that becomes too hard of work because every second of it is a challenge you physically, mentally, and emotionally can’t wait to overcome.

This is my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.