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Students Unite to Support Black Lives Matter Movement

BSU officers

In response to the deaths of George Floyd and countless other victims of violence and systemic racism, Stony Brook University cultural organizations have banded together to raise money for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

BLM fundraising poster
BLM fundraising poster

The South Asian Student Alliance (SASA) took the lead in collaboration with the Black Student Union and approached roughly a dozen other cultural groups on campus. In total, $9,805 was raised by all participants. After a business firm, which asked to remain anonymous, quintupled that match, the total amount of money raised was $50,000.

The majority of the money raised was funneled to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, a chapter-based national organization working to eliminate racial violence and white supremacy.

Meanwhile, the Office of the President and Chief Diversity Officer Judith Brown Clarke have announced extensive and rapidly evolving plans to reach out to students and take measures to combat racism and nurture diversity on and off campus.

Other organizations involved in the fundraising effort included Distressed Children & Infants International, the Latin American Student Organization, the Black Womyn’s Association, the Chinese Association at Stony BrookGuyanese Student Alliance, the Vietnamese Student Association, the Philippine United Student Organization, the Haitian Student Organization, the Asian Students Alliance and the African Students Union.

“This fundraiser and act of solidarity was a special moment for our organization,” said Nicolette Fenelon, public relations officer for the Black Student Union. “We are very proud of the work we did and our role in accelerating the path to equality and justice not just in America, but around the world. We also appreciate the efforts made by our partner organizations and those who donated to the Black Lives Matter Movement.”

“This fundraiser, like the majority of the Black Lives Matter movement, began on social media,” said Maggie Shata, president of the Stony Brook Chapter of Distressed Children and Infants International (DCI). DCI works to raise money for children in need in countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and India.

“The organizers who reached out to DCI, SASA, let us know through our clubs’ Instagram accounts that they were beginning a fundraiser in support of BLM with several other organizations from SBU,” said Shata. “DCI was ecstatic to join the cause, and we immediately went to work. We created a group chat with representatives from each club and remained in constant communication through the duration of the fundraising process.”

Maggie Shata
Maggie Shata

SASA President Esther Shaji encouraged the use of bingo boards on Instagram and to work with outside companies to match individual organizations’ donations.

DCI raised $625 and sent it to SASA.

“Coming together meant so much to us and the students that participated. It opened the door to new opportunities for cultural organizations to come together, establish connections and fight for a common cause,” said Shaji. “I’m hoping in the future we can work together again to create even more events so that we can embrace each and every one of our cultures. This is hopefully the beginning of many more cultural collaborations on our campus.”

Mary Celine Esguerra, president of the Philippine United Student Organization (PUSO), said that her organization added $2,575 to the cause.

“As college students, I believe that this alliance made us realize how important organizing really is and how it impacts life outside of campus,” said Esguerra. “I feel more connected with my fellow club leaders, and I hope that we continue to stand in solidarity for justice for Black lives, as it is something that we all should be fighting for until it comes to fruition.”

Business management major Stephanie Mach 22, event coordinator of Stony Brook’s Vietnamese Student Association, said she was heartened by the outpouring of support from Stony Brook’s cultural organizations.

“Seeing all of us come together reminded me that beyond our individual lives, we represent the community at Stony Brook. It is our responsibility to do what we can and speak up for one another,” she said. “I’d like to thank SASA for inspiring us to collaborate with everyone. The larger we build our system of support, the stronger the impact we have as a university.”

BSU officers
Black Student Union officers, left to right, Public Relations Officer Ricardo Yolas, Speaker of the House Malachai Maloney, President Julie Nwaogbe.

Claire Wu, president of Asian Students Alliance said: “Right before the Black Lives Matter Movement garnered more attention, we (ASA) were celebrating APAHM, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. We were trying to use our social media platforms to share our heritage so others could also find the beauty in it. So, after an entire month of engaging our Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community to try and appreciate where we come from, we knew that we had to keep the same energy to speak up on the protection of our Black brothers and sisters.” They made their contribution of $1,931 to Black Visions Collective and Campaign Zero.

Vivian Lin, president of the Chinese Association at Stony Brook, expressed her support of BLM. “I think that this movement has pushed a lot of us to hold ourselves accountable, to educate ourselves, and to have more open, even uncomfortable, discussions with family, friends, etc. I hope we can continue to collaborate and make a difference together after this fundraiser. The fight does not end after the news cycle ends. I am so proud to be a part of this community and to be an ally.”

Asian Students Alliance
Asian Students Alliance

“This is not a fleeting moment of history, but the largest civil rights movement in history to date,” Shata said. “We as a community must continue the momentum and demand change against the systematic oppression of people of color. Stony Brook University is an archetype of the United States: a melting pot of all different cultures and ethnicities. We hope this movement carries into the future and inspires unity among campus members to strive toward the equality that we as a country deserve.”

—  Glenn Jochum

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