‘Not in Our Town’ rallies at BGSU PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 11:28
BGSU sophomore Will Webb signs a banner with signatures supporting the "Not in Our Town" pledge against discrimination during a kickoff for Not in Our Town Week. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The event had all the essentials for a college gathering - pop and pizza. The chatter that filled the air belied the serious purpose of the gathering.
Monday about a dozen student organizations gathered on campus to kick off Not In Our Town week, an effort to better address issues of bias at Bowling Green State University and in the Bowling Green community.
Tonight at 7 in the Performing Arts Center at the middle school, a kick-off event for the community will be held. Mayor Dick Edwards and School Superintendent Ann McVey will speak and a documentary on the national Not In Our Town movement will be shown.
Barbara Keller, who co-chairs the efforts, said the session "will explain how this got started and why it's important."
While the effort was sparked by racist tweets by students last April, it is about more than racial bias as evidenced by the diversity of groups that set up information tables in the student union. Those groups included the Black Student Union, La Conexion and the Latino Student Union, but also the Greek Council and the undergraduate student council.
All were brought together under the umbrella of The Collective, an effort organized by Adriana Darris, a junior, from Rochester, Mich., and Cuilin Ge, an international student from China. The idea was to bring diverse groups from across campus together to share their stories and perspectives.
Association with the national Not In Our Town campaign is one element.
Darris, who is also active in La Conexion, said that the Bowling Green community stands to benefit from the long-term improvement in relationships.
At the Black Student Union table Kaylyn Collier, a sophomore from Columbus, said that she realized something needed to be done after the incident in April.
In dealing with the racist tweets, including a posting by a non-student this fall, she said, the Black Student Union "was very proactive instead of reactive."
The incident was used to bring people together.
Juan Pimiento, of the Latino Student Union, a junior from Birmingham, Ala., said that he felt welcomed on campus. "The university made me feel very safe," he said, then adding "until the incidents in the spring."
He said he began to question what he'd been "sold" by the university.
Kevin Lewis, a junior from Detroit, said that he found the people in Bowling Green "very welcoming, very friendly."
Coming from the city to a place with "a slower pace" took adjustment on his part.
He said he's seen more awareness of diversity issues since he arrived more than two years ago. "We're beginning to learn from past issues," he said. "It's being addressed."
Still more can be done. "You can never have enough education in diversity. That will make things better."
Those issues extend beyond ethnicity and race, said Darris of The Collective. People need to address bias based on sexual orientation, physical abilities and age.
The Humanities Troupe, a project of the Department of Theatre and Film, staged a short vignette. The three-character scene set in an office was presented twice using cast members of different ethnicities.
Michael Ellison, the faculty member who directs the troupe, said the idea was to show how the perceptions and dynamics of the scene change as different people assume the different roles of boss and subordinates.
"We play this out in a lot of different ways," Ellison said, The idea is "to show we're not afraid of talking about this, and not pretending we have all the answers."

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