Maddie De Pree is a Junior, Vol. 12: Whoa, I’m Almost A Senior

By: Maddie De Pree, Columnist

Last night, I went downtown with my friend, Sarah, to grab some dinner. As we walked around, I remembered how beautiful Greenville is in the springtime. Everyone, it seemed, had come out to celebrate the arrival of warm weather: kids were skipping, couples laughing, street musicians playing and end-of-the-worlders were giving their bizzare sermons. Sarah and I ran into several groups of high schoolers dressed for prom, the girls’ running down the sidewalks barefooted, high heels dangling loosely from their fingers as their dates trailed behind.

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First Town Hall Addresses Racial Slur

By: Nomonde Gila, Contributor and Evan Myers, Assistant News Editor

The morning of March 25, Furman’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion received a bias incident report concerning a video on social media that depicted a Furman University student singing along to a hip-hop song that included the “N” word.

The video elicited strong reactions from students all over campus. Later that day, Chief Diversity Officer Michael Jennings sent out an email, notifying the campus community that the administration was aware of the video and its inappropriate and offensive content. The email emphasized that the video did not represent Furman’s stated values regarding diversity and inclusion, expressed that the student had apologized for their actions and committed to making more thoughtful decisions in the future and finally, assured recipients that the administration would engage the student who appeared in the video in an effort to educate and discuss how their actions affected the broader community.

After the initial email confronted the issue and officially informed the student body about the video, the dialogue between the administration and the student body drew to a close, but the conversation on campus continued. Furman’s student organizations, including SLBC, NAACP and SGA wanted to host an event to discuss the video and “the bigger picture — issues of diversity and inclusion on Furman’s campus,” explained SLBC President Sasha Doster. Collectively, they organized Furman’s first town hall meeting on issues of race at 8 p.m.  Thurs., March 28.

Opening a dialogue for intensive yet informative discussion, students of all backgrounds filled McEachern Hall that evening to share their perspective. Some students were understandably upset, claiming that “the school’s reaction was a disappointment and did nothing but protect the student” and emphasizing that “limited groups of diversity on campus feel targeted and unsafe” when events like these occur. Others, including Doster and sophomore Cameron Abney, have since expressed that they were “not surprised.” Abney went on to say, “I think that it is going to get brushed over just like everything else” with a sigh.

Students seem to agree on two things: first, that racial issues at Furman are more prevalent and profound than this one incident, and second, that there is a disconnect between Furman’s administration and Furman’s student-body with respect to issues of diversity and inclusion.

Qwameek Bethea, Vice President of NAACP, recently articulated both of these views in an interview with The Paladin. With respect to the larger context of racial issues at Furman, he emphasized that there is a difference between “intent and impact,” elaborating “I don’t think the student’s intent was to harm anyone… but this person is representative of Furman [and] it’s important to figure out how many people think this is ok.” The video is hurtful, but more so still because for many, it is a clear example of latent racism that still exists at Furman University.

Moreover, the administration’s response to the video made many students, including Bethea, question whether Furman’s administration and student body are on the same page regarding racial issues on campus. Bethea identified two key disconnects. First, though Bethea has been encouraged by overarching administrative efforts to reconcile Furman’s controversial history with race — such as the Seeking Abraham Task Force — he feels that “there is not that much student support behind it.” Second, Bethea said that the same student groups who organized the town hall struggle to communicate with the administration. “We want to hold the University accountable, they’re saying they’re going to do something, but we want to see actual things getting done,” said Bethea. From his perspective, Bethea said that miscommunication between the administration and the student body is “definitely making us feel like we don’t know if you guys care or not.”

In the end, the recent “N” word video emphasized that Furman’s long struggle with racial issues continues today. Furman’s administration taking notice of the video and student efforts such as the recent town hall meeting are encouraging, but in order to address recurring issues from our past — such as when the “N” word revisits campus — it is critical that the administration and student body work together to come up with concrete solutions. Suggestions offered in the wake of recent events include clearer guidelines and standards for incidents of bias, increased inclusion and attendance to events hosted by minority groups and an extended town hall series that brainstorms more serious solutions.

Annual Holi Celebration Returns to Campus

By: Amanda Egan, Staff Writer

Furman’s annual Holi celebration returned to campus with flying colors (pun intended) on Friday, April 5. The CLP event was postponed from its original date, meaning that Furman students partook in the Indian tradition — which is usually celebrated during the first full moon of spring — after the official Holi holiday had passed. But the spirit was still strong, thanks to the work put in by Furman’s ASIA Club.

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SGA Welcomes New President: Jesse Tompkins

By: Abby Morelli, News Editor

Furman last week held elections for the Student Government Association (SGA) new Executive Council for the Fall of 2019, and Jesse Tompkins is this coming year’s new president. The members of SGA  are “students serving students,” said Tompkins.Tompkins further describes SGA as a governing body that creates clubs and provides resources and funding to clubs and other organizations on campus. There are class positions within SGA and they hold class forums each semester where students can voice concerns, though he says those have become less frequent.

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Recent Updates to Furman’s Student Health Center

By: Thomas Moore, Campus Editor

Furman’s Earle Infirmary is going by the new moto, “More than just a place of health-a place of wellness too.” A number of new changes have been introduced to Furman’s infirmary, and the staff has some news to share: “We want to advertise ourselves,” said Jill McCreight. “It feels like people just are not aware.”

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The Riley Institute Welcomes Back Furman Alumni

By: Evan Myers, Assistant News Editor

What do defeating Ebola, dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, helping Detroit out of bankruptcy and pulling the financial system back from the brink in 2008 have in common? All of these crises were confronted by Furman alumni, who will be returning to their alma-mater to to tell their stories at the Riley Institute and Politic and International Affairs CLP: “Crisis and Response: Stories of Leadership Second Biennial Alumni-in-Residence Program” on Tuesday, March 26 at 7:00p.m.

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The Meaning of February As Black History Month

By: Nomonde Gila, Contributor

As the sun sets on the 31st of January and rises on the 1st of February, we celebrate the return of Black History Month. It is a month that was historically built into the western calendar to celebrate the often-forgotten leaders, movements, accomplishments and overall culture of the African American community. As Thurgood Marshall once said, “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” This month is not only a moment of celebration for the African American community, but is meant to serve as a moment of unity for all other communities that make up the United States: a month that provokes conversations of change, a month that questions history and showcases actions of unity.

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Furman Students Present at the 7th Annual TEDx

By: Evan Myers, Assistant News Editor

Saturday, Feb. 17, Furman University hosted its seventh annual TEDx. Each year, TEDx attempts to bring new ideas to campus in an intimate setting.. The themes of this year’s talks remained eclectic as always, ranging from conversations about climate change and the struggle for justice around the globe to the power of science, the empathizing character of horror movies and Senior Nomonde Gila’s empowering discourse on “The Future of Feminism: The Power Behind Educating African Girls.”

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The Rinker Center Announces Changes to Study Away

By: Will Przedpelski, Contributor

The night before study away results were due to be released, the Rinker Center for Study Away & International Education informed students of a new policy:  all students seeking to study away for two semesters will be required to submit an appeal. The administration insists that this is not to limit the opportunities of the Furman Advantage, but rather to augment them. Furman claims that this rule will give more students the opportunity to study away for the first time.

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