Roughly 180 people attend on campus, student organizations lead protest
On Nov. 6, a #BlackLivesMatter protest was held on campus by various Rollins student organizations.
Some of the organizations included Voices, Black Student Union (BSU), Spectrum, Pinehurst, Off Campus Student Association, Rollins Democrats, and the Latin American Student Association.
“Given the kind of political climate, especially the recent rash of police slayings of Black people in this country […] we thought it would be good for Rollins students to take a stand and let everyone know that Rollins stands for #BlackLivesMatter,” said Dormeus, co-president of events of Voices.
The main students and faculty who organized and led the protest were Donna Dormeus (‘21), Gigi Torres Santiago (‘21), Zachary Mendez (‘22), Director of Center for Inclusion and Campus Involvement (CICI) Abby Hollern, President of BSU Papaa Kodzi (‘21), House Manager of Pinehurst Zoe Pearson (‘22), and Co-President of Outreach of Voices Daviey Torres (‘23).
Santiago, co-president of communications at Voices, said, “We acknowledge that Rollins does pride itself on diversity; however, we do think that they need to do an even better job when it comes to the diversity and inclusion of this campus because we feel as if we’re just coming in second compared to everybody else.”
The event was held on the General Election weekend rather than the originally discussed date in the month of October. Dormeus explained that the date was pushed back because #BlackLivesMatter will need to continue to be voiced even after the outcome of the election.
“The goal is to raise awareness that there is institutional racism in our country,” said Mendez, president of Spectrum.
This protest was important for many Rollins students to show their support and have their voices heard, and it was a personal event for many involved.
Santiago shared her story: “Growing up, as an Afro-Boricua kind of girl, I was never in the spectrum of like ‘am I Puerto Rican enough’ or ‘am I black enough.’ I thought, ‘Where do I stand? Am I white enough to cater to my culture?’”
Mendez explained Spectrum’s involvement and said that “being able to represent the LGBTQ+ community and ally community through this movement with the African-American community means so much because I think this is a statement that should’ve been made a long time ago.”
Mikaili Millien (‘23), secretary of BSU, also voiced her personal involvement: “I have an older brother who is African-American and fits the basic stereotype of what the police are looking for, so everyday I live in constant fear that he might not be here the next day. I am protesting for all of the African-American men and women, people of color, and minorities in general who are facing injustices daily.”
The protest lasted about 90 minutes and hosted around 180 people, according to Hollern.
It included a march along with an impactful message from Kodzi, a speech from Florida State House Representative Anna Eskamani, and a talented musical performance from BSU member Carley Matthews (‘22).