Concordia’s Black Student Union (BSU) and Psychology Club are co-hosting an event at Tomasini Stadium to bring awareness to social justice and racial equality.
The event’s purpose is to give students a safe space to share feelings and ideas about current events including the killing of George Floyd and Jacob Blake being shot seven times in Kenosha.
“We wanted to make sure students’ voices are heard properly,” said Pitchford. “Some want to be heard, some want action, and some are looking to learn. This gives us the opportunity to take care of all three at once. Outreach starts here but we don’t want it to stop at the CUW boundaries.”
The event on Wednesday, September 16 has an anticipated attendance of over 100 students and faculty members. The event has limited attendance and takes place outside to adhere to COVID safety guidelines.
The attendees will have a chance to listen to speakers and participate in an open-mic segment to share personal stories, struggles and feelings. This will be the first current professionally organized event to bring the ideas of social justice and racial equality to the university, other than athletic team meetings.
“I think many people are courageous and want to say it, but they get stuck because they get caught up in thinking about the organization versus the movement, but I’ll be the first to say it, Black Lives Matter,” said Tracy Tuffey, chair of the Psychology Department and Faculty Advisor for the Psych Club.
Tuffey, an event organizer, will be a keynote speaker. The other two event organizers, Education Professor and BSU faculty advisor Eugene Pitchford and Assistant Women’s Volleyball and Wellness Coach Jeremy Schumacher, will speak. Psychology Professors Rachel Pickett and Jeff Johnson also will speak.
“The whole psychology program is standing up and saying something together. This isn’t one ‘woke’ professor or one ‘woke’ student,” said Schumacher. “This is an entire department saying that racism is an issue and we need to do something about it.”
Pitchford, with Steve Gerner, Nandi Mallett, and the BSU, also hosted group events called ‘Courageous Conversations’.
“During the racial unrest and COVID, people felt that they should be doing something but didn’t know what exactly to do, or didn’t understand their emotions, biases or beliefs,” said Pitchford. “I mentored a lot of students who were unsure about their emotions, helped people who felt unsafe, and provided resources to educate during these times.”
Pitchford and Tuffey have worked together for years targeting racial injustices and disparities and addressing a need for activism.
“We are not spot lighters. This is what we believe in and who we are,” said Tuffey. “We aren’t spotlighting this event because it is in the news right now. We’ve been doing this for years.”
The organizers of the event pointed out that the events over the summer and COVID posed serious psychological ramifications not only for the school but for larger populations as well.
“I have this theory of filter in and filter out,” said Pitchford. “As a black man, I filter in so much that it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders and for many, we don’t have a filter out so that does damage to your mental health.”
The event provides a gateway for Christianity to play a role in the conversation.
“Concordia should be the spot where we have these difficult conversations because we are all on the same page and we are all Christians,” said Pitchford. “This is where you should want to have these discussions.”
The event was originally scheduled to take place September 9 but was postponed due to weather. The BSU, Psychology Club and CUW athletics plan to work together to continue to bring awareness to social justice at CUW by hosting events like this one, along with regular club meetings, t-shirts and more.
“If only one person showed up and that one person felt heard, felt loved or felt like we increased their understanding, we felt as though one is enough, and our prayer is that our message reaches more,” Tuffey said.
Written by Alex Loding