On Monday evening, the Black Student-Athlete Alliance (BSAA) hosted a “let’s talk about it” town hall in the McCann Center recreational gymnasium. Cabinet members Jordan Jones (Men’s Basketball), Trinasia Kennedy (Women’s Basketball), Arthur Pinckney (Football), Chidera Udeh (Volleyball), and Chris Watkins (Football) moderated the meeting, which was open to student-athletes, coaches, and athletic faculty. The town hall covered the issues of racism, police brutality, being a minority, and Marist’s handling of race-related issues.
“It was a good conversation,” said Jordan Jones, a senior who is the director of engagement. “A lot of people shared, and it was great to hear the voices of people with different experiences.”
The hour-long meeting began with some icebreaker questions, which transitioned into a discussion about being a minority. Many of the participants pointed to Marist College as a prime example because of its predominantly white student body. According to the College’s demographics published by the Research and Planning Office in 2019, four percent of undergraduate students are Black, while 74.6 percent are White. Black student-athletes noted how there were not many people who looked like them in class but also voiced optimism toward the people in the Marist community who wanted to help.
“Sometimes it feels like minorities and white people live in different worlds,” said Chris Watkins, a freshman who serves as secretary. “It was nice to communicate the disconnect and bridge the gap.”
The conversation moved from the lack of diversity to racism and police brutality, which brought some of the most passionate responses of the night.
“You get numb to police brutality after a while,” Jones said.
“We need justice, or else things like this are just going to keep happening,” said Trinasia Kennedy, a sophomore who is co-president along with Arthur Pinckney.
Athletes of different backgrounds listened intently and tried to put themselves in each other’s shoes. The discussion closed by asking how participants felt Marist handled issues of race. The response was universal: not well enough.
At one point, Men’s lacrosse head coach Keegan Wilkinson stood up and said, “I’ve been here 13 years, and I’ve never been part of a conversation like this.”
“We wanted to bring things to a point where people wouldn’t be too uncomfortable answering questions,” said Jones. “At the same time, we didn’t want to make the questions too easy. We were able to find a medium between them, and we got people to open up.”
The BSAA continues to plan more events. Another town hall is a possibility, but the COVID limitations are keeping them from branching out and holding an event like this for the entire Marist community. For now, they will stay active and encourage more dialogue.
Edited by Bridget Reilly & Mackenzie Meaney