So, the day after the election, Nov, 9, 2016, I had early on noticed that the campus seemed fairly quiet, more so than usual. The students that I observed and heard speaking were of course discussing the results of the Trump victory in the presidential election, much of those conversations were held to a minimum volume.
As I stood outside of Armstrong Hall, I had taken notice to four Muslim students (two males, two females) standing in a circle talking. Their conversation was of no concern; I did not even give it much of a thought other than simply thinking that they too must be talking about what had transpired the night before in our political system. My back was turned to them when suddenly I heard the voice of another male student speaking to them.
What he said stopped me in my tracks and caused me to turn around to see who this was.
The student, a white male, along with another white male student, had confronted the group of four Muslim students and the one male said “Just so you know, you guys have nothing to worry about down here, nothing is going to happen to you, we’ve got your back.” With that, the student reached out his hand in an offer of a handshake, which was reciprocated by one of the male Muslim students who lowered his head and simply said “Thank you.”
The white males turned and walked away, both smiling, as now were the four Muslim students.
These total of 26 words exchanged between this half a dozen students were truly moving and inspiring, unscripted and natural. I stood there taking it in, almost feeling uncomfortable as I was watching this unfold in front of me; at the same time, I felt a lump form in my throat and my eyes fill with tears.
This interaction provided a glimpse of hope about our society, about our student body, and about our school and community. Many believe that there is a new public display of hatred encompassing our communities, and they are right, there is. However, moments like this proved that there are also those who see humans as humans, not as colors, genders, races, ethnicities, or classes. Better yet, it is our youth; it is those who will someday be the leaders in our communities that are displaying this acceptance of diversity in our society.
I would like to add that I am new to MNSU, Mankato, recently graduating from a campus filled with diversity, the University of Minnesota. But what I observed the morning of Nov. 9 instantly made me proud to be a part of the Maverick community.
Yes, I am a sociologist, so I spend much of my time observing behaviors and norms of groups of people in their interactions, but I am first and foremost a human being, and what I witnessed that morning was, for lack of being eloquent or articulated, very cool!
Graduate Student- Department of Sociology and Corrections
M.S. Sociology of Corrections