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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

UA students and faculty demonstrate in support of diversity, equity and inclusion

Caroline Simmons
CW / Caroline Simmons

Editor’s note (03/03/2024): This story was updated to include the number of people in attendance at the demonstration organized by the Queer Student Association, Hispanic-Latino Association and the Black Faculty and Staff Ambassadors. 

Students and faculty joined together in front of Gorgas Library to protest Senate Bill 129 and to express their support for diversity, equity and inclusion programs Wednesday. 

During the demonstration, organized by the Queer Student Assocation, Hispanic-Latino Assocation, Black Faculty and Staff Ambassadors, and other individual students, people chalked the walkways on the Quad, chanted and gathered to share individual stories. According to the QSA’s Instagram, nearly 200 people were in attendance. 

The UA demonstration was done in coordination with similar efforts at the University of Huntsville Alabama in Huntsville, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Auburn University at Montgomery. 

Earlier on Wednesday, a strike organized by Cordelia Hulsey, a sophomore majoring in anthropology, took place throughout campus. Students could be seen walking around carrying signs and showing their support for DEI.  

Hulsey estimated that at least 100 UA students participated and that she received support from at least 20 faculty members. 

“I did this to show Montgomery, hey, this is what the campus is going to look like if you take away these programs, these are the people that won’t be here,” Hulsey said. “It’s going to leave empty classrooms and empty holes and empty offices.”    

Eliza Taylor, a junior majoring in nursing, joined Hulsey during the strike and wrote via text that they felt compelled to join as a person who wants to become more of an activist.  

During the demonstration, students brought signs, pride stickers, flags and chalk. 

In addition to cutting state funding for DEI programs, SB 129 would require public institutions of higher education to ensure that multiple-occupancy restrooms are designated for use based on “biological sex.”  

Aria Donn, a senior and accelerated master’s student majoring in economics, said that this part of the bill could open the door for people to complain if they see somebody going into the bathroom who is following the law but appears not to be.  

Samad Gillani, a junior majoring in finance and the president-elect of the SGA, said that as a first-generation college student of color, he was disheartened to hear about SB 129. 

“I think it’s incredibly important to have a diverse campus, to have an equitable campus and equitable resources and opportunities for all, because without diversity, equity and inclusion, there is no UA,” Gillani said. 

Several UA faculty and staff members came out to the demonstration to show their support for DEI and their students. 

Peter Ludovice, the executive director of the engineering entrepreneurship program, said that there is not enough diversity on campus. He added that in order for entrepreneurship and companies to grow, DEI is needed. 

“I am out here because entrepreneurship needs creativity. You need a creative view, and the best thing for creativity is diversity of people, opinions and backgrounds,” Ludovice said. 

Alex House, the assistant director of communications for the University, said that the University is dedicated to providing educational, research and patient care to all students. 

“We are committed to providing resources and opportunities that are accessible to all and will continue to work with the legislature as we equip our campus community members for success at our universities and beyond,” House wrote. 

During the demonstration, supporters of SB 129 stood to the side in observance; one of those was Trenton Buffenbarger, a sophomore majoring in political science. 

“In my opinion, DEI is inherently racist, because if you define racism as saying one race or anything like that is inferior or superior to the other race, then raising up a particular race to a different level because you say they’re lower than them, that’s inherently racist against any race or gender or idea,” Buffenbarger said. 

From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., UA leaders stood by Denny Chimes to share why they support DEI and what SB 129 means to them.  

Eyram Gbeddy, a junior majoring political science and the president of BFSA, helped organize the demonstration and was one of the speakers. 

“Without all our communities being able to have voices heard, UA is not reaching out to its full potential, and we are failing as an institution. That’s why it’s so important that our legislators oppose 129 and defend DEI,” Gbeddy said.  

Other speakers included Julia Dominguez, president of the Hispanic-Latino Association; Susan Xiao, vice president of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers; Kaia Crispin, vice president of West Alabama Young Democrats; Aubrei Grisaffe, the next SGA vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion; Zackary Sheats, the National Pan-Hellenic Council president; Ever Wood, the executive director of engagement for QSA; and Bella Loia, the current SGA vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Dominguez, a junior majoring in political science, said that she was disappointed about SB 129 but was not surprised. 

During the speeches, onlookers drove by and yelled derogatory language at those in attendance, including homophobic slurs. 

Students from Alabama, UAH, UAB and AUM have planned to meet in Montgomery to protest next Wednesday. 

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