University students advocate for Ferguson, stage peaceful protests

Imani Flowers

Following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown, students of universities from all over the nation joined together in solidarity to protest their feelings on the issue.  Just a week ago, these protests made their way to Villanova’s campus. 

Kinjal Dave, sophomore, along with other students who shared her same concerns, organized a peaceful protest that took place on both Wednesday, Dec. 3, and Thursday, Dec. 4, from 11a.m. to 4p.m. at the Oreo.  

Anyone who was able to come was asked to wear all black.  Since other schools in the area were having protests of their own, one of the demonstrators had contacted Fox 29, NBC 10 and CBS 3 to inform them on what was happening on Villanova’s campus as well.  While they all came out to cover the protest, CBS had been the only one to air footage from Villanova.

The protest consisted of students, from both Villanova and Rosemont, and faculty linking together to form either a circle around the Oreo or a line across the steps to show unison, while holding signs that had quotes such as “The youth defines the future” or “Racism isn’t over.”

 Students taking turns laying on the ground, signifying that any black male could have been Michael Brown, as another sat on their knees gazing down at them,  a die-in demonstration, which was staged the during the last 15 minutes on the second day. 

Despite the weather on the first day, Dave said, “It made it even more meaningful that people stood out in the rain because they thought the demonstration was important enough.” Between 20 and 40 students and faculty were there, and many more walked by to express their approval or disapproval on what they had been witnessing. ”  

During these two days, there had been students from every sphere of the University present.  

From athletes to students in the theater, there was a common force that collected them in order to express their similar beliefs on a cause that faced all people.  Most of these students had been strangers to one another, but standing next to each other for hours created a bond amongst them and relationships forged through their ultimate goal of making people aware of the inequalities of the system that is in effect and evoking reactions from the rest of the campus. 

The reactions of the University community ranged from being very supportive, such as from Public Safety, Student Development, other faculty members and students who have applauded those participants for stepping up to take a stance on what they believe in, to very hostile feelings on the demonstrations.  

During the protests, especially the die-in, there were students who walked past, took pictures and the expressions on their faces made it clear that their curiosity had been sparked. There were also a few students who would yell their support as they went to class. Most students did express that they felt uncomfortable with what they witnessed during those two days. Nothing of this caliber has happened on campus, so for this to even occur was a shock and caught a lot of people off guard. 

Dave, however, does not want those who felt any sort of discomfort to fear discussing their reactions.

She challenges those who felt uncomfortable with this: If the demonstration made you uncomfortable, why is that?  She urges those feeling this uneasiness to lean into discomfort, join the discussion and be heard. 

While many people may look at the demonstration as a Ferguson protest, that’s not the case.  

She says that people have to “realize that for many out at the Oreo, this is not a social justice matter, it is their lived experience.” For her, and the others who stood out in the cold for hours together, it was important that Villanova had a chance to take a stance on such a prevalent subject that affects everyone.  She felt it necessary to “invite Villanova to join the type of conversation it has resisted for so long” because “[she] realized how much of this campus would not understand why” it could even relate to them too.  

Dave explained the purpose as this: “We are protesting police brutality, race based police brutality, and more.  These systems, and the racism within them, gave us this situation, so we are calling attention to the fact that racism in America still exists. ”