Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

‘Hands Up! Walk Out!’ demonstrators march on campus

Photo by Michael Hsu

As part of the ‘Hands Up! Walk Out!” national movement, members of the Calvin community were invited by the “We Are Calvin [Too]” collegiate group to march from the chapel patio to commons lawn at 1 p.m. on Dec. 1.

The national movement began in response to the recent grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American.

While marching towards Commons Lawn, Calvin participants raised their hands and chanted “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” in reference to witnesses who testified that Brown had his hands up when he was shot by Wilson.

To show support for students participating in the rally, provost Cheryl Brandsen sent out an email asking faculty to allow students to attend the event without penalty.

“It is possible that some students may arrive late to their 1:30 classes,” the email stated. “Please allow students to participate in the march, if they wish.”

Among those in attendance were members of the president’s cabinet, including vice president of enrollment management Russ Bloem, interim vice president of student life Cindy Kok, executive associate for communication and planning Doug Koopman and executive associate for diversity Michelle Loyd-Paige.

The walkout was sparked by a challenge from Wheaton College alum Daniel Ismail Aguilar to members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, of which Calvin is a member.

In an excerpt of his webpage, which was quoted on the Calvin Facebook event, Aguilar stated, “this Movement is not only about Mike Brown or the countless others whose lives have been stolen. It’s about the next one.”

For Loyd-Paige, the rally provided an opportunity for members of the Calvin community to come together on the issue.

“This event is important,” said Loyd-Paige, “because it’s a way for students, faculty, staff and administrators to show solidarity and concerns with the issues that are going on, not just in Ferguson, but beyond Ferguson. It’s an opportunity to speak out against social injustice.”

Following the march, participants gathered in the middle of the lawn to pray and listen to reflections by different members of the Calvin community.

“I have been somewhat hesitant to talk about this,” said Ralph Johnson, assistant dean of judicial affairs. “I have a good relationship with the police. I actually used to work for the cops. But I have been pulled over 22 times. I have gotten three tickets. Six of those times I was pulled over because I fit the description of someone they were looking for. There is a fundamentally different experience for black men in this country.”

Johnson continued, “It is not just a police issue; it is a justice issue.”

Loyd-Paige also voiced similar frustrations.

“I’m tired that the same stories I heard as a little girl from my grandparents from when they were growing up are the same stories I am passing on to my kids,” she said.

For junior Titus Hankins, the issue was rooted in both the police and the justice system.

“Calling the police is a last resort. I shouldn’t have to be afraid of calling the police,” said Hankins. “We feel like we have to riot in the streets to get attention. There is obviously an issue with our justice system.”

As the event came to a close, participants expressed their gratitude for the opportunity.

“I came out here to support students who often feel like they are part of the minority,” said Rachel Hamilton, Knollcrest East assistant area coordinator. Hamilton appreciated the chance to “come together as a community, and talk through it and pray.”

Junior Bianca Edwards also was thankful for the movement and the importance for Calvin as a Christian institution to be involved in social justice issues.

“Standing in a circle and praying — that’s what I envision the world being. That made me cry,” she said. “It was just like a relief. We’re doing something on campus that is spirit-led, that God wanted us to do.”

Aside from faculty attendance, staff participating in the event originated from many offices including campus safety, residence life, Broene Counseling Center, service-learning center and campus ministries.

Calvin joins other colleges in the ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ movement including Wheaton College and Harvard University.

The Calvin community is invited to a town hall discussion on the ‘Hands Up’ social movement on Monday, Dec. 8, from 3:30-5 p.m. in the Meeter Center Lecture Hall. For questions or additional information, contact Sarah Turnage ([email protected]).

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