Several of Stony Brook University’s cultural organizations joined together June 2 in an effort to raise money for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The United States has seen over two weeks of protests following the deaths of multiple black Americans, including the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Their deaths have inspired a global call to action against police brutality and systemic racism, with peaceful marches occurring in major cities such as New York, London and Tokyo.
The South Asian Student Alliance (SASA) was the first to present the initiative. Esther Shaji, SASA’s president and a rising senior biology major, noted how nationwide protests and the need for unification inspired the call to action.
“As the protests ignited nationwide, we felt the need to come together,” Shaji said. “[This] sparked our motivation to fight for change for the Black Lives Matter initiative.”
SASA’s executive board presented the idea to almost a dozen other cultural groups on campus, including the Black Student Union and the Latin American Student Organization.
“It was really beautiful,” Zamansky Twum, secretary for the African Student Union and a rising senior women’s, gender, and sexuality studies major, said. “It shows that organizations that cater to people of color can come together to collectively fight against police brutality and dismantling white supremacy.”
All money raised through the fundraiser goes to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, a chapter-based national organization that funds efforts to combat state-sanctioned violence and bring about liberation to the black community. In less than a week, the fundraiser cultivated over $9,700. The fundraiser started the same day the Office of the President released a campus-wide email about Floyd’s death, which also provided students with resources to aid in processing the tragic events.
For groups like the Haitian Student Organization (HSO), the fundraiser is only the beginning of a much longer campaign to give voices to the black student community.
“We intend to have even more general body meetings regarding issues that affect the black community, not only to bring awareness but to focus heavily on the solutions we can create,” Kitchner Gaston, HSO’s vice president and a rising senior biology major, said. “We also intend to host events about important but majorly unknown historical events because we know that history repeats itself, but if we educate ourselves we can right the wrongs of the past together.”
A petition to provide a George Floyd Memorial Scholarship at Stony Brook is also underway, with over 1,500 signatures since its launch on June 5.