Members from NIU’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Black Student Union joined together for a town hall Thursday to discuss the upcoming election, the struggles of online school and being a Black student on campus.
BSU President Jaylan Peebles told students during the town hall the upcoming election on Tuesday is more important than students realize.
“I feel like I would be doing my ancestors a disservice by not voting,” Peebles said. “I know they fought long and too hard for us to not vote, so I feel like I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t.”
Sandy López, coordinator for undocumented student support, was also at the town hall to answer any questions students had about voting. López said it’s important that students make use of the early voting sites because she feels like there is voter suppression happening in DeKalb.
“We need to vote, we need to get our people out there, we need to get students of color out there and voting,” López said.
López said if an election judge tells awaiting voters that ‘it’s 7 p.m. and the polling place is closed,’ students should stay in line because they have the right to vote.
“As African Americans and as people of color, our right to vote is limited in this country, and that’s actually a big reason that we should be encouraging more people to go out and vote,” NIU NAACP President Devlin Collins said.
COVID-19 and fall semester
Most students during the town hall said they were struggling with online classes and the switch from in-person to online classes has been stressful during the pandemic. A lot of the students said they’re not really learning anything this semester and forgetting the material after an assignment is due.
Junior business major Kevin Stringfellow said as a community advisor, it’s been hard to plan socially distant events for the residents on his floor.
“It’s mostly [first-year students] on campus or living in a dorm, and it’s not really what they expected for their [first] year, they expected more than this,” Stringfellow said. “It’s like a lot of people I’ve seen go home and just decided if they’re going to sit in their room all day and pay all this money, they might as well just go back home.”
Leah Botello, junior political science major, said she’s sad there’s no spring break for the semester, but understands that it’s best for the students’ health and safety.
“I just feel like a lot of students work for that break, you work up until spring break and then you finally breathe again,” Botello said. “Then you can take that breath that gives you the energy you need to finish out the rest of the semester.”
Students also said she is concerned about the incident that happened a month ago at the Center for Black Studies where a racial slur was spray-painted on the side of the building. Students questioned why there have been no updates from either police departments since the incident occurred.
“I don’t want the possibility of showing up to a place that feels like home, and then seeing a slur written on it,” Collins said. “My home was just broken into and abused like that. Just show me that you care, that’s all I ask from the university and police.”