Not In Our Town project to tell stories of local lives

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Every life has a story. There’s a beginning, an end, and everything in between that makes a person who he or she is. Not In Our Town Bowling Green would like share the stories of local residents’ lives by putting words and photos together for an exhibit. “We want to use narratives and storytelling to promote understanding across differences,” said Christina Lunceford, campus co-chair of Not In Our Town. “We are trying to find a way to better tell the story of who’s in our community.” The Not In Our Town Narrative Project will be modeled after storytelling projects in other communities across the U.S. The purpose is to provide “space for our community to develop understanding of varying world views and lived experiences.” The photos and stories will tell about the lives of local leaders and everyday people in the community, Lunceford said. “Who’s got a story to share,” she said. The idea is that once the photos and narratives are collected, they will be displayed on a BGSU diversity and inclusion webpage, but also be part of a rotating exhibit in the community – in places like the library or storefronts. “We want to talk about the richness our backgrounds bring,” Lunceford said. “We want to understand how people’s backgrounds and experiences benefit their communities.” Local people wanting to share their stories or be part of the process of photographing or collecting the narratives are asked to email blazec@bgsu.edu, or fill out this survey to indicate interest. Individuals who would like to share their stories and portraits will be contacted to set up photography sessions and interviews. The interview questions that will help guide personal narratives will be sent out in advance. By showcasing the various voices that make up the Bowling Green community, the goal is threefold: to celebrate diversity that is in BG through visual arts, to showcase acts of “ally-ship,” and to raise awareness of the experiences of marginalized groups in the community. The idea for the narrative project comes from the works of Dr. Howard C. Stevenson on racial literacy and inspired by the California Polytechnic State University’s Dr. Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti’s work with the Kennedy Library’s “I am Cal Poly” exhibit and University of California-Santa Barbara’s Dr. Kip Fulbeck’s “Pan Asian, 100% Hapa” traveling exhibit.

BGSU students feel hatred unleashed by election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The election season has unleashed a deep hatred that is causing many Bowling Green State University students to feel uncomfortable on campus and in the community. “I feel like I have to walk around with my head on a swivel,” said one African American student at a Town Hall held on campus Monday evening. “I shouldn’t feel like this. I paid to go here. I feel unsafe on this campus.” Students shaken by the results of last week’s election met to create a safe place to talk. They heard story after story of fear, anger and uncertainty of the future. Amira Hassnauoui, head of the Graduate Student Senate, could not hold back the tears as she talked about her decision to come to America from Tunisia. “This is not the America I signed up for when I left my homeland,” she said. “This is my new home. I am here, but I am not a citizen and that scares me.” Some of the anger was prompted by an attack reported by an African American student last week. On Facebook, the student reported she was attacked by a group of white males on Crim Street next to campus. Though students and faculty get emergency alerts for other incidents, many said they received no notice from the university and heard about the reported attack several days later. The students and faculty present demanded to know why they had not been informed through the normal alert system. Tom Gibson, vice president for student affairs and vice provost, explained that university officials found out about the incident through social media – it was not initially reported to campus or city police. Once university officials became aware, they contacted the victim and worked with her to report the incident to city police, he said. “We take these issues very, very seriously,” Gibson said. “I take these issues very, very seriously.” The university then sent an email communication out to students within 24 to 48 hours after the incident, he said. “It wasn’t as though we were reluctant.” The incident is being investigated, according to Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick. An instructor at the town hall meeting lashed out at Gibson, saying secrecy is not acceptable. “I am angry,” she said. “How am I supposed to recruit students” if the campus is not safe. “Bowling Green needs to do better,” she said. Gibson agreed that the university can do a better job of communicating issues like this. Students also asked the university to take a stronger stand on verbal assaults on campus. One student living in Kohl hall said a Latino student was told she would be deported, and an African American student was called a racial slur. Those type of attacks should not be tolerated, she said. “I’ve got to be laying on the ground for you to pay attention to me,” she said, adding that students should feel safe in their living space. “There’s not enough healing. There’s not enough hope.” “It takes us to stand up and say, ‘We don’t do this at BGSU,’” another student said. Several students reported a change on campus since the election. “Now it feels a lot more menacing,” one said. “The atmosphere feels so eerie, intimidating, scary,” a…

Attack, hate speech reported after election ‘whitelash’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After a long election season laden with hate speech, the results of Tuesday’s vote have left many populations feeling vulnerable and targeted. On Thursday, a BGSU student reported on Facebook that as she volunteered to collect election signs from yards on Crim Street, she was physically attacked and called racial slurs by men shouting they were “making America great again.” Bowling Green police are investigating the incident. On Wednesday evening, as a peaceful rally was held in the green space in downtown Bowling Green for those troubled by the election, Krishna Han said three teenage boys walked by yelling, “Black lives do not matter.” On Tuesday evening, a BGSU student from Tunisia explained during a city-university relations commission meeting, that international students are reporting threatening incidents to her, and worry about the climate created by the election. After years of inching toward inclusion, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign “whitelash” is being blamed for legitimizing hatred toward many populations – Latinos, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, women and more. “It was a pretty traumatic day,” BGSU student Allie Dyer said Thursday during a Not In Our Town meeting. “We are in very real danger now. We have to watch our backs now.” In response to the student reporting the attack on Crim Street, BGSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost Thomas Gibson released a statement to all students. “BGSU is committed to ensuring that we have a welcoming and safe climate for all members of our community. We believe in the value of respecting one another, promoting diversity and being inclusive in making Bowling Green State University a place we can all be proud of and where our community members can thrive,” Gibson wrote. Gibson encouraged students to report incidents in person, online or by phone. He also urged that students attend a town hall meeting on Monday, at 6 p.m., in 101 Olscamp Hall, on the “Impact of the Election and Respect within Our Community.” Bowling Green City Schools are also keeping an eye out for any increased bullying or discriminatory behavior that are being reported elsewhere in the nation. High School Principal Jeff Dever said there have been a couple cases of individual students arguing about the presidential election, but no spike in bullying behavior. But BG Superintendent Francis Scruci said he does have some concerns about the lack of civility spurred by the election. “This election has taken the filter off,” he said. “The disappointing thing to me is that these feelings have existed, but this election has removed that filter.” That lack of tolerance has been evident in social media posts by adults, Scruci said. “I’m watching the adults exhibiting all the cyber bullying that we tell kids not to do.” The Not In Our Town organization members grappled with the fallout from the election as they met on Thursday.  Rev. Gary Saunders said that the election should not be viewed as a referendum against diversity and inclusion – but rather a choice between two candidates. But others saw the nation’s support of Donald Trump as something more cynical. “I truly think it was a statement of hate,” said Julie Broadwell. Some see Trump’s campaign as a forum allowing white people to openly say what they have…

BGSU Access, Diversity and Inclusion Programs to honor student achievements at TRIO Awards ceremony

Bowling Green State University students will be honored for their personal and academic achievements on March 24 during the 28th annual TRIO Awards Celebration. Hosted by the Access, Diversity and Inclusion Programs within the division of Student Affairs, the ceremony will take place from 4–6 p.m. in 101 Olscamp Hall. The ceremony will open at 4 p.m. with a silent auction to help raise funds for book scholarships, followed by the keynote address at 4:30 p.m. Faculty, staff and personnel from BGSU and Toledo area schools will also be recognized for their support of TRIO Programs, which are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and work with students from middle school through college completion. They provide support and guidance to nurture academic achievement and the pursuit of higher education and graduate studies. TRIO Programs at BGSU consist of two pre-college programs, Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound, and two college level programs, Student Support Services and Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Scholars Program. This year’s keynote speaker is Kaye Monk-Morgan, director of the TRIO Upward Bound Math Science Center at Wichita State University. A 25-year veteran of Student Affairs with 17 years of experience in the field of college access and success, she offers a unique blend of executive vision, leadership acumen and desire to help children with the greatest needs to gain access and successfully complete college. Morgan is charged with advancing the interest of disadvantaged high school students in science, technology, engineering, math and health-related fields. It is a charge she is devoted to and uplifted by. A first-generation college student herself, Monk-Morgan understands the advantages of having a college education, especially one in a STEM field. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and business and a master’s degree in public administration with emphasis in higher education studies. Her prior roles as an assistant director of University Housing, community college admissions representative and AmeriCorps program director were all training for her current role as a college administrator and dream facilitator. Monk- Morgan spends much of her time on administrative duties but finds those responsibilities directly related to working with students to be the most fulfilling and the fuel that keeps her going. She has served on several local boards including Wichita Festivals, the Kansas Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, the Wichita State University Alumni Association, the Diversity and Equity Committee for Wichita Public Schools, the Junior League of Wichita, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. Monk-Morgan’s current leadership responsibilities include serving as the immediate past president of the10-state Educational Opportunity Association, and a regional representative to the national Council for Opportunity in Education board, where she co-chairs the Strategic Planning and International Access Committee.