In the aftermath of a swarm of racially charged attacks throughout the 2019-2020 academic year, members of the Salisbury University community reached a breaking point.
Students and staff alike expressed their frustrations to administrators in the form of protests, demonstrations and written demands for systematic change and a renewed call for diversity and inclusion on campus.
One such initiative was undertaken by junior Dorien Rogers, who is currently entering his second year of service as the SU Student Government Association’s director of diversity and inclusion, with an all-inclusive petition for change at the university.
“I created the ‘Enough is Enough’ Petition because of the racial bigotry discovered within members of our campus community with a visible level of comfort … due to the unlikelihood of facing consequences from entities within our community. This petition calls for disciplinary action to be delivered for individuals such as these.”
Further, Rogers’ petition pushed for SU administration to enact an explicit “zero-tolerance” policy on acts of discrimination, as well as renew the contract of Annette Johnson, coordinator for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, whose work he believes “inspired many members of the campus community to apply what they’ve learned to develop action-oriented solutions to promote change within our communities, within our institution and within ourselves.”
In just over two months, the “Enough is Enough” Petition garnered more than 200 signatures from students — undergraduates, graduates and prospective students included — as well as alumni, staff, faculty, student organizations and other allies of the university in a united call for action.
Yet, Rogers credits most of the support to his fellow students, as he has received overwhelmingly silent responses from faculty, staff and administration.
“I believe students were more alert and engaged than faculty and staff members. Although it was over the summer, which made it difficult to spread the word, students were still engaged. For faculty, I emailed all  faculty members — including the faculty senate — on the first deadline and only heard back from five.”
Dr. Eric Rittinger, a professor of political science at SU, was one of the few staff or faculty members at the university to openly support and sign the petition.
“I support students who are standing up for ‘diversity and inclusion.’ These are values that the university itself says it wants to promote. To foster an effective learning environment, we all must treat each other with civility and respect, even as we debate contentious issues.”
When asked how confident he is about the demands of the petition being implemented, Rogers said, “[it] depends on how much members of our community, especially students, want to see systemic change at SU. We can repost, we can wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirts, but if we don’t apply actions to our words, we fall victim to the historical cycle of inaction. Although we’re here as students for [only] four to six years, we must be consistent and resilient to ensure short- and long-term change long after we’ve left.”
While the petition’s deadline has passed, Rogers still encourages all members of the SU community to continue to push for systematic change and express their desire for inclusivity by reaching out to members of the university’s faculty senate, contacting local congressional representatives and holding accountability in the highest regard for everyone on campus.
Future goals for Rogers and his counterparts include securing a separate diversity and inclusion general education requirement for all SU students, as well as an expansion of diversity training for both students and faculty at the university.
To view the “Enough is Enough” Petition and messages from its signees, please use the following link:
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image: Emma Reider image.