Written by Devon Mitchell
On Thursday, May 29, student led organizations led a healing circle to discuss the social implications of the Derek Chauvin verdict at Roanoke College. Student leaders from BSA, HOLA, Tangles, Lambda, OMA, SGA, and the Honors Program led difficult conversations for 70 participants consisting of students and staff with the goal of reflecting on the current social climate in the U.S. and hosting conversations on equity for the entirety of the Roanoke College community.
Junior Jordan Robinson, the President of BSA, opened the program by stating that the Healing Circle was meant to be a safe space for “constructive and progressive” conversation geared towards students. The program began with a presentation where student leaders spoke the names of black and people of color who had been killed in the past month due to police brutality. Thirteen names were said, but more could have been added.
Robinson concluded the presentation by saying there are, “so many more names that could have been presented tonight.” It was clear that no name was more important than the last, and “we still have problems.”
Following the presentation, Chaplain Chris Bowen led participants in an opening prayer, stating, “We are in this together.”
The major aspect of the program was when two student leaders, senior Aaron Rogers and junior Kinsey Nguyen, led a healing discussion with open-ended questions which were meant for healing. Rogers first led the conversation geared towards students. Students were asked if they felt supported by the faculty and staff, how the verdict affected them, and how we could enact change. The hurt and disappointment of black students was felt as they shared their experiences with microaggressions, mental health, lack of support, and more at Roanoke. One student remarked, “Students of color have the weight of the world on their shoulders.”
Next, Nguyen opened the conversation to faculty. Overall, there was a feeling of guilt and regret for not being more open towards these difficult conversations. Many professors expressed the desire to make changes in how they discuss race in the classroom.
The evening was concluded by sophomore Amaia Boykin thanking everyone who came and listing campus resources for students. Roanoke College students are encouraged to seek out resources through Maroon Care, the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), and Campus Ministries.