Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

‘DEI saves our students’ lives’: Students organize strikes and demonstrations in response to Alabama senate bill

CW / Jennifer Stroud

On Thursday, the Alabama Senate approved Senate Bill 129, which would ban the public funding of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The bill awaits a vote Wednesday in the House. 

The bill would prevent state agencies, local boards of education, and public institutions of higher education from sponsoring any diversity, equity and inclusion program or maintaining any office, physical location, or department that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion programs. 

The bill would also bar college students from using a restroom that does not align with the sex listed on their birth certificate. 

SB 129 would also prevent the same institutions from maintaining programs that advocate for “a divisive concept,” defined as a wide variety of things, from the idea that individuals are inherently “oppressive” based on their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin, to the idea that meritocracy is sexist or racist. 

This bill would authorize certain public entities to discipline or terminate employees or contractors who violate this act,” the bill states. 

Students at The University of Alabama, the University of Huntsville in Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Auburn University at Montgomery have expressed their concerns and frustrations about the bill and have planned demonstrations and strikes at each university. 

Cordelia Hulsey, the coordinator for the strike at UA and an anthropology major, wrote via email that the strike she is organizing and the demonstration the Queer Student Association, Hispanic-Latino Association, and Black Faculty and Staff Association Ambassadors are coordinating are separate events that will both be held on Wednesday. Hulsey said that everyone has been working with the University and local officials to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  

Abby Shinnerl, a senior majoring in international and global studies at the University, has helped organized the demonstration at The University of Alabama alongside the help of the QSA, HLA and BFSA.    

“Diversity, equity, and inclusion is something that enriches this campus for everyone. We love to say ‘Hate doesn’t roll here,’ but if that’s true, we need to prove it,” Shinnerl wrote.  

“DEI implements programming that uplifts student populations, and creates opportunities for constructive, deliberative dialogue, and educates students on self-love and acceptance,” Sean Atchison, president of QSA, wrote via text message. “Students need this support because at universities without these programs students are more likely to drop out or have serious mental health concerns. For LGBT+ students, a lack of specific initiatives leads to incredible increases in suicide rates, DEI saves our students lives.” 

The three student organizations are hosting a demonstration in front of Gorgas Library on Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The events led by QSA, HLA, BFSA, and other students are separate from the strike being coordinated by Hulsey. 

Reese Overton, a sophomore majoring in English at Auburn University at Montgomery, has helped coordinate the strike at Auburn University at Montgomery. 

“Some of the reactions I’ve seen to this bill being passed so far is anger and frustration because essentially, we’re being told not to be ourselves or that we can be ourselves but not ‘too much’,” Overton wrote via text message. 

Neph Irvin, a sophomore majoring in English secondary education and the coordinator for the strike at UAH wrote that she was fearful when the bill was passed, because she knew that it was going to affect and impact a lot of people.  

“We deserve to feel safe and not repeat history,” Irvin wrote.  

Hulsey and many of the other coordinators have encouraged people to email their teachers to notify them that they will be striking.  

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