Shoulder to shoulder, Queens University of Charlotte students gathered together at the coexist rally on Friday, October 26. Some entered in groups, while some entered alone. Nonetheless, everyone who filled the Trexler lobby during common hour had one mission: to take a stand against hate at Queens.
The event was hosted by the Muslim Student Association and Students Advocating For Equality (S.A.F.E.), with representatives from various student organizations present. The coexist rally’s main intent was to demonstrate support for the Queens Jewish community after swastikas were drawn in multiple spots around campus.
Despite the anti-Semitic acts, members of the Queens community displayed their support for the Jewish community and other minority groups at the rally, including first year student Max Hvasta. “I think [the rally] will help a lot of people recognize that we all do need to support diversity and religion and everything else like that,” he said.
Many members of the student body spoke about how they too have been discriminated against. Mohammed Jibriel, a senior and the president of the Muslim Student Association, spoke first.
“There is absolutely no place for hate in our community,” Jibriel said in a statement that was met with resounding applause.
His speech was followed by other influential Queens community members, including Dean of Students John Downey. “Diversity without inclusion is nothing,” said Downey, communicating the importance of accepting and including all groups of people on the Queens campus.
This message and the purpose of the rally was apparent to many of those in the crowd, including Allison Blackwell, a freshman at Queens. “I’m here because I think peace and equality is important for everyone, and that we need to create a more open and accepting campus,” Blackwell said.
Others in the crowd were there to represent their minority communities as well. “I wanted to come out and show support for not only my community, but others too,” said Eli Pardo, a member of the LGBT community at Queens.
Toward the end of the rally, as silence enveloped the crowd, Noah Goldman, a victim of the anti-Semitic acts, passionately quoted Edmund Burke, “All it takes for the world to burn is for good men to do nothing.”
Joey Haynes, the Queens chaplain, recounted his experience studying abroad as a Queens student, where he celebrated Christmas with three friends: two Buddhists and one Jew. He explained how grateful he was to have an opportunity to celebrate a prominent Christian holiday with people who did not share his beliefs, which led to healthy discussions about each others’ viewpoints.
“While we didn’t agree on some things, what we could agree on is we see each other as humans,” he said.
The final speaker was none other than the president of Queens herself, Pamela Davies. Although she did not have prepared remarks, Davies said she felt a need to speak after hearing others speak so bravely before her. Looking out over the crowd, Davies said she saw “passion, commitment, love, tolerance, and caring” in the students assembled.
As the rally drew to a close, and the crowd started to progress out of the area, the silence that filled the room during the speeches was replaced with a noise for change. It was evident that those gathered strongly felt there is no room for hate at Queens University of Charlotte.
Reported on by Cristina Cabrera Barrientos, Mona Dougasi, Jordan Grantz, David Griffith, Jeannette Jones, Will Martin, Jake Nacinovich, Zahnell Pinnock and Andrew Puckett. Image courtesy of Mohammed Jibriel.