Not in our town

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Marcus LeGrand

By Marcus LeGrand | The Broadside (Contact: mlegrand2@cocc.edu)

In conjunction with their commitment toward A Season for Nonviolence, the Central Oregon Community College Multicultural Activities Coalition created an opportunity for the community to discuss their concerns by showing the film “Not in Our Town.”

The film takes a look at five communities dealing with deadly hate violence over a five-year period. Following the film, a student panel was conducted sharing stories of intolerance and transformation. The host, Patrice O’Neill, founder of the NIOT, also helped lead a discussion on how to prevent and respond to incidents of bullying, hate and bigotry.

The audience was given a safe forum to reflect and provide insight on what is needed at COCC and the community at large. Many of members of the audience expressed their concerns, while searching for a bit of transparency. They wanted to know what campaign is being constructed to the mobilize students and staff to act and stand up for themselves and others while taking on the characteristic of the campus community and respond to local issues.

A fundamental purpose of NIOT is to build a collective voice taking on many forms: slogans, pledges, assemblies, and other campus activities.

By doing this, growing a sense of empowerment and authentic discussion in a safe environment would be possible. In terms of what is affecting the Bend community, many of the comments reflected around these themes:

  1. Silence and denial that we have a problem
  2. The lack of awareness of diversity
  3. Lack of media buy-in are being produced
  4. The Bend Bulletin editor’s unwillingness to discuss racism

The audience members and panelist were asking for minorities or people of color in the decision-making process, and the audience didn’t come without resolutions or recommendations:

  1. Teach people how to speak up effectively
  2. Awareness expand the school district’s curriculum to include diversity
  3. Engage people to help them overcome the boundaries we set
  4. Meet with editor and involve power leaders to address the issues
  5. Work collaboratively to adopt common goals

Ultimately, the first responders who attended are looking for a surge of energy and attitude that creates an inviting atmosphere for all students and families, while staying flexible and accepting in this ever changing landscape of education.

For COCC to have a successful “Not On Our Campus” campaign, it needs to have an ongoing commitment to empower students to create safe and inclusive environments that are free of anti-gay harassment, bigotry, racism, and all the forms of tolerance. Everyone on the COCC campus can be a force from nonviolence by creating peace in ourselves and the community by choosing to participate in what we learn and practice nonviolence.

As America struggles with its history of incorporating desperation and fear, we as a community need to do these three simple things: one step at a time, one choice at a time and one day at a time. For questions or discussion send all comments to mlegrand2@cocc.edu 

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