A candid conversation with staff member Calvin Monroe about racial identity, social justice, and moving forward.
By Angus Stayte
In response to recent events, the Black Student Union has had considerable challenges presented to them. I interviewed Saint Mary’s staff member, and seminar 102 teacher Calvin Monroe, the advisor for the BSU, and a Black Studies major in his doctoral program currently, to get his take on Saint Mary’s, and national topics. We discussed why he chose to become a leader in the BSU, his reaction to Breonna Taylor and George Floyd’s deaths, his views on campus police and how the campus has responded to these events.
When asked about why he chose to become a leader in the BSU Monroe spoke to finding his niche helping young black students get through “trauma who still have to try and be strong for their peers as well as help out other minority students who may not have had parents or friends who have been to college”. He goes on to say “we are processing information and expressing it to each other to begin to heal and start to gather ourselves to help other black students on campus who may need it.” Calvin cites trying to keep minority students ‘in the fight’ of higher education as his main goal.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. In addition, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was fatally shot in her Louisville, Kentucky apartment on March 13, 2020, when a search warrant was executed by officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department. I asked Calvin how his leadership has been affected within the union since these events. The first thing he spoke about when I asked him was how he had to make sure he personally was “strong for his people mentally.”
We then shifted to the micro-level and the Saint Mary’s campus. I asked about what he thought the role of Public Safety should be on campus. He spoke to the need for them to have a ‘silent presence.’ He goes on to say “BSU wants to know that you are there and that there is equality.” He further clarifies that “[we hope that] in reports no one group is getting citations or tickets more than others.”
He further claims that no one is perfect and recognizes that mistakes will be made but the effort should be there. He then adds that when mistakes are made that dialogue is key to hash out issues in the name of achieving “restorative justice.”
Finally, we talked about how the events of the summer have been received on campus by faculty, students, and staff. He revealed that he has received supportive emails from faculty. He also cites that the students in the BSU “are tired of lip service” and want real action. He suggests that actions can mean money and it “can be spent on assisting under-resourced students in financial aid packages, or for programming centered on their healing” He also talked about how students are intertwined on campus and take notice of peers who are silent. The action that Monroe suggests for the future for healing would be “to have an open heart wanting to learn more” and “to just listen and have good dialogue.”
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