Occidental’s Black Student Alliance (BSA) organized a “Black Out” photo campaign Sept. 22 to show solidarity with the Cornell University Black Students United (BSU) following the assault of an anonymous black Cornell student by multiple members of a fraternity Sept. 15. The Ithaca Police Department is investigating the case as a possible hate crime. Black student organizations across the Ivy League hosted solidarity events Sept. 19 to stand with Cornell’s BSU.
Students dressed in black congregated in the Academic Quad to take part in BSA’s photo campaign. This campaign included portraits of students holding whiteboards that read: “We stand with BSU Cornell,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Hold Cornell Accountable,” among other statements.
BSA President Ronnie Doss (sophomore) heard of the events at Cornell and felt action was necessary to extend support to BSU Cornell and the larger black community there.
“One of my good friends goes to Cornell and she told me about the events that had taken place at Cornell,” Doss said. “I had seen that other schools had done things in solidarity, so I thought we should do something as well. I met with other e-board members and we decided to have people wear all black for that day and also do a photo campaign.”
BSA advertised the event to the Occidental community through a Facebook event and personal outreach, according to BSA External Affairs Officer Anastasia Cusack (sophomore).
“The intent was to send support to Cornell students,” Cusack said.
After the event, BSA Historian Anna Palmer (junior) shared photos from the event with Cornell’s BSU, which later posted them on Cornell BSU’s Instagram page. BSA Vice-President Darla Howell (sophomore) said she felt the event was successful because they had proof that the Cornell community received their support.
“The most important thing about the event is that we showed we were standing in solidarity with Cornell,” Howell said. “It showed we can connect with different black communities across the country. What you do matters, social media is a big part of that.”
Cusack said she considered the event a success because of the number of students in attendance and the interest from the community.
“I was glad to see so many people turn out,” Cusack said. “It was really nice to have people who wanted to support Cornell students even if they don’t know anyone who goes to Cornell.”
Doss said she shared similar sentiments and was satisfied by the success of the event, but felt there was room for improvement.
“The Oxy community can be better in showing their support and solidarity across the nation and in Oxy,” Doss said. “Something like wearing black isn’t that hard so when you have small ways of protesting like that, it’s really not hard to participate.”
According to Cusack, BSA is now moving forward to focus on community building and on-campus events for black students at Occidental.