By Matthew Ludak
When I opened my email and read that the Black Lives Matter sign, which had been on display in Seminary Hall, had been vandalized, I was many things, but not surprised. And after talking it over with several friends and fellow students, I quickly realized that nobody else seemed that surprised either. Sure, there was a general sense of angry disappointment, but they were not in disbelief to find out that someone had thought it necessary to cross out “Black” and replace it with “All.” Now, we may never know who is responsible for doing this or understand what made them feel compelled to do so; however, what this incident made blatantly clear is that Drew is not immune or protected from the very same ignorance, stupidity and hate which permeates throughout the rest of the U.S.
Drew’s principles to champion justice, equality and the ability for all students, regardless of race, to live and learn in an environment which they feel not only comfortable in but also welcomed in, obviously has not reached every corner of the Forest. I asked a friend and fellow junior, Alcides Costa, his personal opinion on the vandalism and he responded by stating, “I am continually disappointed by the fake smiles and hidden racism that plagues the Drew Community.” His feelings of being part of a community at Drew, which has amassed a reputation for doing the bare minimum when it comes to confronting implicit and explicit acts of racism on campus, are unfortunately not solely his own.
This gets me to the most troubling thing and the reason I felt the need to write this. It is a problem that I am not surprised that someone defaced a “Black Lives Matter” sign on campus. It is worrying that I was not surprised that the vandalism happened but that it took so long to occur in the first place. It should not be taken for granted that a student of color, or anyone for that matter, is attending a college that they feel fosters a culture of subliminal racism. This event should be a wakeup call; Drew needs to do better. If there are students on Drew’s campus who can’t understand that the Black Lives Matter movement is not arguing for black racial superiority but equality, then I think Drew needs to do a better job of teaching its students. The faculty, students and administration should be having open and honest talks about race and racism on a regular basis. It is not good enough to simply schedule discussions on tolerance and acceptance once actions of hate and ignorance occur; that is like treating the symptoms and not the illness.