Blog post contributed by Ann Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org), Department of Classical Studies, Trinity University
After the news of the election came through in the early hours of November 9th, many people were put in a state of shock and uncertainty. As educators, that anxiety increased because we were faced with the challenge of what to say to our students. I teach at Trinity University, a small liberal arts college in San Antonio, TX. The small and intimate class sizes naturally led to deep and heartfelt conversations about students’ experiences, perceptions, and concerns. And Concern became a focus of these conversations. As news of aggressive and threatening acts against minority populations across the country began to spread, and especially acts of hate on college campuses, my colleague in Classical Studies, Dr. Benjamin Eldon Stevens was inspired by stories from other colleagues as well as students to initiate a program we’re calling #TigerWalk (the tiger being Trinity’s mascot).
While overseen by faculty members, #TigerWalk is ultimately a student-driven initiative that establishes a community of allies for students who feel unsafe walking or transiting along across our residential campus. The organization, whose motto is “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” has multiple ways of reaching out to concerned students. We are developing an organization patch for volunteer allies to pin on their clothing or backpack so that they will be easily identifiable to students. Additionally, we are utilizing social media tools – a private Facebook group and the Slack messaging app – to help students communicate with one another and establish meeting places and set routes, especially after late night labs or other university events. Ultimately, we hope to partner with a similar rideshare program, so allies can go in groups to the grocery store or run other errands.
We have had great support from the university and the community as a whole. After a little over a week and with minimal advertisement, we have 23 student volunteers and multiple faculty members on board. In addition to offering allies and partners to our most vulnerable students, a great strength of this initiative is the empowerment of all student volunteers, who directly after the election, had an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Furthermore, the initiative establishes a community of support between students, faculty, and staff. We don’t know what to expect from the future administration at the federal level, but at this local level #TigerWalk has helped create a community of people dedicated to the protection of minority populations who might be targeted in light of the changing political climate. If you are interested in establishing a similar group on your campus, feel free to contact myself, Ann Morgan (email@example.com) or my colleague, Benjamin Eldon Stevens (firstname.lastname@example.org).