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

Students rally against SB 129 at Montgomery State House

Ava Morthland
CW / Ava Morthland

Students from across Alabama came together in front of the Montgomery State House to rally against SB 129 and show their support for diversity, equity and inclusion on Wednesday. 

The rally was attended by students from The University of Alabama, Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Samford University, Jacksonville State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Auburn University, Auburn University at Montgomery, the University of North Alabama and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. 

ACLU Alabama, Project Say Something, and Alabama Forward helped support the rally and provide gas money, lunch, t-shirts and other supplies. 

Among other things, the bill would eliminate state-funded DEI programs and require institutions of higher education to “designate restrooms on the basis of biological sex.” 

On Tuesday, several students spoke to the House State Government Committee about the importance of DEI programs and the potential harmful effects of the bill. Among them were Black Faculty and Staff Association Ambassadors president Eyram Gbeddy and Queer Student Association president Sean Atchison. 

Despite these concerns students raised, the committee gave SB 129 a favorable rating, opening the door for the bill to advance to a House vote. 

Keturah Stone, a senior majoring in communications at Auburn University at Montgomery, was at the rally as a part of Alabama Forward. 

“They’re trying to take away… that difference in our individuality that they tell us to always have,” Stone said. “How’s that gonna help someone grow when they go to college?” 

Groups of students organized carpools and gathered signatures for letters to be sent to elected officials and the UA System Board of Trustees. A petition opposing the bill has already surpassed 5,500 signatures. 

Students inside the building attempted to talk to Alabama state representatives and voice their concerns about SB 129. However, students said most of the representatives were not interested in talking. 

“They either walk past us, or they don’t give us the time of day, they talk over us, or they literally went out the back door so they wouldn’t have to face us,” Sam Shelton, a sophomore majoring in social work at UAB, said. 

Sarah Smith, a junior majoring in sociology at UAB, said that DEI programs at universities in Alabama help expose students to culture that they may not have been granted in small town communities. 

Neph Irvin, a sophomore majoring in English secondary education, is a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who helped organize a demonstration last Wednesday on their campus.  

“They say that we’re their futures, and yet, they are technically trying to take our futures away from us, which doesn’t make any sense,” Irvin said. “We shouldn’t have to go back in history.” 

Jack Riley, a sophomore majoring in psychology at The University of Alabama, also spoke with a few of the representatives inside the statehouse on Wednesday. 

Riley said that the representatives tried to convince the group that the bill was not going to affect the lives of students. 

At 2 p.m., ralliers stood together and chanted while holding up signs. 

Some of the speakers at the rally included Atchison and Sydney Testman, the rally co-organizers; Armani Benton, a student at Alabama State University; Cameren Cunningham, a student at AUM; Elijah Winston, a student at the University of North Alabama; and Camille Bennett from Project Say Something, in addition to several others. 

“My next question for you is, what are you gonna do even if, even if this bill passes? Will you still show up? Will you hold these legislators accountable?” Bennett said.  

Bennett said that the people and students at the rally were making history by being there. 

Other speakers talked about the future of the state. 

“We represent the next generation of folks in there. We represent the next leaders of the state, of our economy and of our people. What they need to know is their time has passed. DEI is here to stay,” Atchison said.  

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