Survey on race shows SIU students' level of concern

SIU students voice concerns with campus safety

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Some students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale are on edge following a series of incidents on and off campus.

The university's administration worked with YouTube to remove the two-minute video, which contained racial slurs and threatened attacks at a scheduled protest Monday, May 2.

A group posted online about a one-day strike at SIU about a week before this offensive video was published.

A strike on May 2 was also mentioned in graffiti spray painted on Faner Hall on SIUC's campus.

A person was shot in an apartment complex that houses hundreds of students just blocks from campus.

SIU administrators launched an investigation after a student's video went viral after alleging her peers were holding an openly racist conversation in her dormitory.

In a recent Heartland News poll, students were asked how they felt about racial issues and safety on campus.

Racial Issues on Campus:

SIUC student Michael Knight, 22, from Chicago's South Suburbs, said the racially charged video is dividing the campus community.

"Instead of trying to better bring people together, we're kind of separating," Knight said. "Me, I don't think it's safe. I don't think it's safe how it used to be. Because there's a number of things that are strikingly getting bigger like robberies and stuff like that.

Sophomore Sydney Williams from Chicago said she doesn't feel racial tension on campus.

"Everybody approaches me the same way," Williams said. "If there are differences it's because of personality not because of you know racial issues."

On campus organizations: 

A number of students said they noticed racial segregation, especially among Greek fraternities and sororities.

However, students said most  of the members of those groups do not discriminate against others based on race.

"I'm not trying to throw anybody out there but I feel like Greeks is definitely one of them," SIUC Freshman and Chicago native Leah Wayne said.

Several students did mention that some members the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega at SIUC had been alleged to have made racially insensitive comments about African Americans. The national ATO office in Indianapolis issued a statement denying those claims.

May 2nd Protest: 

Many students are concerned over the protest scheduled to take place on May 2nd.

Some students said they plan to join in to the protest.

"Honestly I don't want to go to class on May 2nd," Wayne said.

SIUC student Emilie Rogers from Noroto, Missouri says she's worried about the protest.

"I'm very concerned about my safety and there safety of the other students," Rogers said.

Others said they are afraid to attend class that day because of the threatening video.

SIUC administrators held a press conference April 25 explaining that extra precautions would be taken to ensure safety on campus.

Safety on Campus:

Some students said they feel safe walking to and from class during any time of the day. Some said there are ample police and other programs that help to ensure campus safety.

A number of students cited poorly lit walk ways and a lack of campus security. One student said Thompson Woods was a key contributing factor to feeling unsafe.

"I don't feel like they're doing enough but I do feel like some people are trying," Wayne said.

Several students mentioned that crime in the downtown Carbondale area, although off campus, attributes their feeling of being unsafe.

SIUC student Moses Diaz from Chicago, Ill. says he's felt safer in recent weeks.

"Police are walking around a little bit more than they did before so maybe in that sense, yes," Diaz said.

Administrative and Student Response to Resolve Issues:

Most students said the concerns about race and safety are the equal responsibility of students and administration.

Students mentioned recent e-mails that show the administration is aware of the situation, but feel a lack of understanding in what steps are being taken to improve the situation.

Madison Self from O'Fallon, Ill. says it will take the entire campus community working together to solve these issues.

"They've [administration ] been putting out these e-mails and making statements but honestly I'm not entirely sure what they could do," Self said.

Students like Senior Alex Corn have taken it on themselves to spark programs like #SalukiVoice to promote safety on campus.

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