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‘The battle that we fight is not a singular one’: WKU PCAL and CITL host ‘We Stand With You’ discussion

Wyatt Reading
Kaylee Youngblood, a senior graphic design major decorates the concrete with chalk during the “We Stand With You” discussion in front of Cherry Hall on Wednesday, March 27, 2024

WKU Potter College of Arts and Letters and the WKU Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning hosted an event to provide a space for students to come together and exchange dialogue outside of Cherry Hall on Wednesday, March 27. 

The “We Stand With You” event gave a platform to students concerning recent events on campus, specifically, Kyle Rittenhouse speaking at Downing Student Union at the same time of the event. Free Kona Ice was also given to the first 300 attendees. 

The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning had a separate event scheduled for Wednesday evening, “Getting the Scoops on Careers,” planned at DSU, where alumni were to be invited and ice cream provided. The event was later combined with PCAL to create a larger event. 

Cierra Waller, associate director for student success, elaborated on the choice to combine the two events. 

“Due to some unforeseen things, we decided to bring the students up the Hill,” Waller said. “It aligned with our goals of socialization and advocacy and professionalization for our first year students to mingle with great faculty members, staff, administrators and community people.”

The CITL First Generation Initiative aimed to provide space for first-gen students to create a higher sense of community during this time. 

April McCauley, specialist in the CITL first-gen department, said that a first-gen student can be other things besides a continuing generation student, including underrepresented minorities, parents and more. 

“We’re all here to do similar things, to trailblaze for our family or to just make more money when we get out of college or whatever the case may be,” McCauley said. “We just want to represent how welcome everyone is.”

The joint event acted in a way to provide students an opportunity to share ideas and engage in meaningful conversation. 

Audra Jennings, history department chair, spoke on how PCAL wanted to provide a space to uplift students. 

WKU PCAL Dean Terrance Brown speaks at the “We Stand with You: A Space for Meaningful Conversation” event on Wednesday, March 27. “We should all know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry,” Brown said. (Wyatt Reading)

“We just really wanted to create a space to give students a platform to think critically about who we lift up and who we celebrate,” Jennings said. “We have opportunities to share who they would lift up and who they would give a platform to.”

Dean of PCAL Terrance Brown gave a speech on the inclusiveness and diversity that the college strives to achieve. 

Brown said how his home to WKU is not composed of the buildings that surround campus, but more of the individuals he has chosen to invest in and that create the environment of WKU.

“The people whose voices are not hidden in a place of complacency, of people who love deeply, of people who’ve chosen to provide safety,” Brown said. “People that have chosen to provide safety for Blacks, latinas, Bosnians, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, lesbian, poor, rich, and if I have not called you yet just know that you are loved too.”

Students that attended the event fell under the intentions of the event and came out to find a place of safety and like-mindedness. 

Freshman family consumer sciences education major Anastacia Alvarez felt joined by her community and confident to share her own ideas. 

“I was a little worried about how violent some of the protests would get,” Alvarez said. “I feel like this is a lot more of a peaceful option, and it’s a way for the community to get together and just talk and share their ideas without having to worry about anybody being aggressive towards them.” 

Alvarez said how she hopes to see change in WKU policy to prohibit negative speech from coming to campus. 

“I feel like if the speakers who are coming to Western aren’t being positive and are spreading a lot of hate, then they probably shouldn’t be allowed to come,” Alvarez said. “I understand freedom of speech, but I don’t think it applies when it’s hate speech.”

Senior theatre major Leah Shink, joined by two friends, came to the event after the Alpha Phi Omega president made the event known.

“We were really interested in being apart of something positive,” Shink said. “It was nice getting together with people and seeing some of our professors out here supporting students and the fact that there is an option for us to talk about the things that are going on on campus and we don’t have to focus on the negative.”

Brown highlighted the initiative students are taking to make their voices known on campus through exercising their right to protest and how he engaged in conversations with students where many questioned what they could do to make the situation better.

“The battle that we fight is not a singular one, and I will say that I am proud to serve and lead a college that will speak before me in spaces where they feel that I can’t,” Brown said. “Thank you for believing.”

News Reporter Maggie Phelps can be reached at [email protected] 

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