Fisher Unite Series Seeks to Foster Growth, Learning on Campus

October 12, 2020

Since summer, a small, passionate group of students, faculty, and staff has been engaging in ongoing discussions around topics of racial equity, social justice, diversity, and inclusion.

A banner lists Black lives taken unjustly. Say Their Names is the theme of an upcoming series of discussions for the campus community.

That group, which includes students from the Muslim Student Alliance (MSA), Black Student Union (BSU), Teddi Dance for Love Committee, and other organizations, as well as College employees representing a cross-section of departments, offices, and Schools, have decided to take the conversation to the entire campus community with the launch of the Fisher Unite series.

The first Fisher Unite: Say Their Names discussion will take place at noon, 3 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. Participants can join an in-person discussion in Kearney Hall (Room 308 or 314) or in virtual discussions via Zoom (meeting ID: 939 5194 2652).

Abdulhady Homed, president of MSA, said that topics will vary as the series progresses, but the main goal is to foster consistent, regular conversation among the campus. Over the course of the academic year, discussions will explore black mental health; the Black Lives Matter movement in Rochester; police brutality, the defund the police movement, and issues of racial inequity in the criminal justice system; microaggressions and implicit bias; and antiracism at Fisher, among many other social issues and concerns.

For Lisa Balde, president of BSU, the series is about creating safe spaces for students to speak out – to have a voice and help them feel more comfortable and a part of the Fisher family. Vincent Ibezim and Danyal Shah both agreed.

“I feel like people are uncomfortable talking about these topics, and that’s okay. But, we need to talk about this,” Ibezim said. “And, I hope the whole school can embrace the idea that having these conversations is not an option – we all have a responsibility in this.”

Shah noted that educating the campus on issues of equality is an important stepping-stone in creating a stronger Fisher family, and could encourage more students from underrepresented communities to attend the College.

Emily Trotman, chair of the 2021 Teddi Dance for Love, said she became involved in the conversations in an effort to learn more and create a more diverse dance committee.

“As a student who is not of color, I would like to be more educated, and help create a more inclusive environment on campus as well,” she said.

When the group first began meeting, Homed said he was angered by the events happening around him.

“My heart was full of fire. I wanted change and I wanted it quickly. And, little did I know, there were people who wanted to help me and my vision, and that’s the message I want to send to those of color: you have support,” he said. “We are all here because we support and care about each other. Through this outlet, through interracial dialogue and student to faculty dialogue, that is how learning comes and it is how people learn and grow. That’s a huge message because it gives hope.”