It is the first day of the new semester at St. Bonaventure University, but some students may not be headed to class. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., Bonnie's Center for Multicultural Student Affairs has organized a week-long, nonviolent sit-in to protest contemporary injustices.
Students and others are encouraged to come to the main lobby of the Reilly Center and sit in silence at least 30 minutes, in honor of the civil rights leader during his birthday week.
"What Dr. King means to me is a motivation to keep going," said Center Coordinator Parker A. Suddeth. "We are nowhere where we need to be, but we're much better off than we were and I think that it's important to acknowledge that and celebrate that and validate that through my life's work and creating and fostering an equitable and inclusive climate for each and every student, faculty and staff member here at the university."
Suddeth said each day of the sit-in will draw attention to a different injustice.
"The main purpose behind this particular week's activities is that in order to move forward, we have to consciously keep these thoughts in our minds and our hearts, because if we don't, then what will happen will be that these things will continue to get worse and they'll fall by the wayside," he said.
On Tuesday, the topic is racial and ethnic disparities in incarceration.
"You'll see one statistic that says in 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34 percent of the total 6.8 million correctional population and African Americans were and are five times more likely to be incarcerated than whites," Suddeth said. "And then you'll see another statistic that talks about the imprisonment rate of African American women is twice that of white women."
On Wednesday the topic highlighted will be sexual assault, Thursday the gender wage gap and Friday equal rights for all. Suddeth said his center has also made available an online survey, which asks participants to share their feelings about King and the current state of injustice in America.
"Sit-ins are starting to become the new old thing to do. Stop and at least look and walk by and say, 'Well. what is going on?' and maybe they'll pick up some statistics and some facts about things," Suddeth said. "You know, oftentimes because we live in our respective bubbles, we are not privy to people from different walks of life and the plights that many of us go through."