The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Last Wednesday, hundreds of students and community members gathered to unite against white supremacy. We, the editorial board of The Student, believe that in times such as these, it is imperative that communities have discussions about both the recent tragedy that occurred in Charlottesville and the current rise of white supremacist rhetoric and ideology in the U.S.
The issue of white supremacy immediately became a national one when Heather Heyer, a counter protester of the white supremacist rally at University of Virginia, was killed in a vehicular attack on a crowd supporting her cause. The incident rose to the national news, sparking outrage across the nation, and in response, marches and rallies sprang up.
It is important for us, here at Miami University and in the town of Oxford, to understand that while we may not see threats of white supremacy as we stroll down High Street and Spring Street on our way to class or on our way Uptown, white supremacy can creep up anywhere. In fact, white nationalist fliers appeared on campus last year, advocating for all white “traditional” families. Even if they were simply a prank, the ramblings of some students who thought it’d be funny to hang them in academic buildings and in Armstrong, they should not be treated as a joke. No sentiment threatening harm or violence against another group of humans should go unnoticed or undiscussed, especially not on a college campus.
In addition, we are a part of a university that is not particularly known for our inclusivity and commitment to diversity. We are a predominately white institution. Each year, there are incidents of harassment and vandalism targeting minority groups – LGBTQ, black, Latino and international – in residence halls and even in the classroom. There is documented history of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) having visited and having a presence on this campus. The resources and support systems for these students, while improving, have not always been so strong. These are things we must acknowledge before we open up this topic for discussion.
At the community level, we understand that there are people who are confused as to why this march happened. Oxford community members and students who do not believe that this is an important issue to address must understand that in order to improve our campus climate, we must begin to open up a forum for dialogue around topics such as these that are difficult to discuss. And the concern that the rally will draw the attention of white supremacists and turn our beloved Miami and Oxford into a target is one that cannot take precedence and cannot silence the voices of those oppressed.
We must commend the organizers of this rally. The turnout was impressive and that fact is undeniable as indicated by the large police presence. There were many faces in the sea of people, some familiar, known for their activism on campus, and some new.
We encourage students to pay attention to new events and marches that are being planned and to participate in this activist culture to keep momentum growing.