MLK Scholars hosts student activism panel Friday, Sep 11 2020 

By Madelin Shelton —

In response to recent protests surrounding racial injustice, the University of Louisville’s College of Arts & Sciences hosted a forum titled “We Can’t Wait: Student Empowerment Through Activism” featuring MLK Scholars Arii Lynton-Smith, Nicole Sparling and David Echeverria.

The forum, which took place Sept. 8, focused on the social activism of the featured MLK scholars, ways members of the U of L community can engage themselves in activism, and how the university can improve in making U of L a truly equitable place for black and brown students.

Dr. Cherie Dawson-Edwards, the newly appointed Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, moderated the panel and provided questions to facilitate the discussion.

When asked what student activism entailed, all three panelists agreed that it was crucial to think beyond the relatively small U of L community. “As an organizer, I’m working towards global liberation,” Echeverria said.

While keeping the global worldview in mind is necessary, the panelists also agreed that student activism includes investing in your community, whether that be through financial resources, or donating one’s time and energy.

The panelists gave consistent criticisms of the university on how it should move forward in support of Black Lives Matter and empowering student activists. Among those criticisms were that the university doesn’t simply need to put forth an “anti-racist” agenda for face value.

“What people are asking for is an overhaul of a system that exists, not for a system that is working to continue but in different ways,” Lynton-Smith said.

Sparling said that, “[BIPOC] weren’t expected to be in higher education spaces and now that we are in these spaces, there are issues.”

“What the university should do is completely rework the system,” she said.

Echeverria also added that the university should not just look to SGA for student input, as students’ voices aren’t always accurately represented. In addition, the panelists advised increasing the number of student representatives on important university advisory bodies relating to inclusion and equity.

At the end of the panel, the panelists gave a call to action for attendees to educate themselves about issues concerning racial history and modern racial injustices, and to engage in critical thinking about the world around them.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Despite not being able to meet, RSOs are still finding ways to engage Thursday, Mar 26 2020 

By Victoria Doll —

All on-campus events and activities have been cancelled until further notice due to the spread of COVID-19. According to the University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi, online instruction is extended to the end of the semester and so are final exams; therefore, all campus events are suspended as well. 

In her latest email, Bendapudi said, “Events hosted by any University of Louisville entity or at any University of Louisville facility are to be postponed or cancelled through at least April 28th.” 

Even though there are no in-person meeting times for U of L’s clubs, there are still ways to participate and stay engaged. According to Julia Onnembo, University of Louisville’s assistant director of student involvement, a great way to stay engaged is to use the Engage website to cast your vote to elect your RSO Officers.

She said, “Engage has a great election program that you can use to run a virtual ballot in your individual portals.”  

Another way that campus RSOs are staying engaged is through group chats. A lot of clubs are maintaining communication through the app GroupMe or other mass messaging apps. 

To keep business flowing as normal as possible, some clubs use the platform Zoom to host online meetings and hold elections. For example, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) club on campus continues to host meetings through Zoom to discuss basic club information and how to move forward. 

NSCS’s President Ashley Ward, said, “These unprecedented times call for leaders who can adapt to abrupt changes. As a student leader of an RSO, my fellow officers and I have agreed to continue to offer open communication.” 

She continued to say that she encourages all RSOs to adjust as best as possible. “Student leaders need to adjust to online meetings, emails, social media and independent activities. Our primary purpose right now is to be an outlet for questions and concerns. Since we have quickly learned to adapt to an online campus, I know that we can face future challenges.”

Ashley has hope that even though these times are challenging, next semester the NSCS club and the community of U of L will be closer as a community. 

Overall, there isn’t much that anyone can do besides focus on classes and help the cause by staying inside and following other CDC guidelines.

Bendapudi concluded her email with some thoughtful advice and words of encouragement. “Despite all the busy-ness, I hope you will take a moment to pause.  Slow down.  Anchor yourself in what matters most to you. Together we will persevere through this tumultuous time and come out the other side a stronger, more unified university community.” 

File photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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