Ustream live coverage by Roberto X. Cruz
Recently, multiple racial epithets have been found on the SUNY New Paltz Campus. [For the news brief, click here.] Jonathan Espinosa, a third-year Black studies and sociology major, was walking through the Lecture Center with his friend when his friend noticed a sticker on the water fountain that read “Colored Only.” Espinosa tried to start a discussion in front of the water fountain, despite those who were telling him it was not a big deal. Someone tried to remove the sticker, but Espinosa put it back up so others could see the same shocking words. A Caucasian student then came up and proclaimed, “At least you got the taller fountain.”
Frustrated with people’s reactions, Espinosa, who is a senator in the Student Association, took the sticker to the SA Office in Student Union 419 and showed it to anyone who passed by. He then went to his Black Sociology class with Professor Carroll at 12:15 p.m. Shortly after, the University Police Department (UPD) knocked on the door and requested that Espinosa come out of class. They asked him to hand over the sticker and he complied.
According to Espinosa, the most important thing the campus community can do is continue talking about it.
“By not talking about it, you’re ignoring it, you’re part of the problem. You don’t bring it to people’s consciousness,” Espinosa said.
Professor Coleman of the Black studies department wrote a letter to college President Donald Christian highlighting the political context of the situation as it applies to the United States.
“He [Coleman] explained that what is happening here is reflective of the racism in this country,” Espinosa said.
Espinosa will also host a discussion forum on Thursday, Nov. 17 in Student Union 100 at 8:30 p.m. titled “Colored Only.”
“My goal is to bring this issue forth to the community so people of color can come together as a community and family and support each other,” Espinosa said. “With a support system you can come together on goals.”
At the forum, they will be discussing the aforementioned sticker, the defaced flyer found in Lefevre Hall and the graffiti found on an elevator in the residence hall. The forum will begin with an explanation of the events and exactly what occurred to clear up any inaccuracies about the incidents. They will then define racism and explain that racism is a power struggle in which a dominant group controls the perceived inferior group. Hate crimes and how to identify them as well as other forms of racism will also be addressed. They will then open it up for discussion and have people share their emotions about these incidents. Espinosa says having people discuss their feelings is important because “we can’t move forward unless everyone shares how they feel about it.”
Espinosa’s main goal of the forum is to show the campus community that racism still exists.
“People try to pretend there’s no racism here, that we live in a post-racial society and that’s not true at all,” Espinosa said.