DES MOINES, Iowa — After several racist and threatening notes, a robo call and every day microaggressions Drake University Students took to Painted Street to show unity but also call on university officials for change.
“I’ve been subject to discrimination on many levels and I just don’t like that the place that I call home, also that I try to get my education and I have to constantly fight to affirm my existence on this campus. So at the end of the day, I think that painting the street is a great step but it’s not the end. Paint it black is larger than painting the street black. It’s actually a movement to create real and permanent, institutional change on this campus,” Drake University student Morgan Coleman said.
The university president, faculty and staff also helped paint it black to stand in solidarity with their students.
“The students here have expressed that by doing this they feel seen, they feel heard and they feel valued. And they know that even though the people who have committed these acts over the last week have tried to sow division and discord and try to tell people they aren’t welcome here. This act today lets people know that every one of our students is welcome here,” Drake Director of Student Engagement, Equity and Inclusion Tony Tyler said.
Students didn’t stop there. They also made up a list of four demands:
- A request for a written and recorded statement from the university president committing to focus on equity and inclusion
- A commitment to work with students on student identified issues
- Create more visibility for existing equity inclusion groups
- Accessible information on students rights
“Our lives are being threatened and that’s why we needed to say something. We needed to speak. We needed to ask for some change, because all we have been getting are emails. Emails saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ Emails saying, ‘Peace.’ Emails saying, ‘I will be with you on painted street,’ but what is that going to tangebly do? How is that going to help?” Alexander Peralta-Cornejo said.
Students said they will keep fighting until they see change.
“It’s definitely a long road and it’s a process but we have people here with enough discipline and enough courage to stand up and keep fighting for what they believe in,” Coleman said.