UNL students stand up to racism - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

UNL students stand up to racism

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By: Bill Schammert

After multiple incidents during the first semester, UNL is starting a new campaign to combat racial intolerance.  It's called the "Not here, not now, not ever" campaign.

But, Monday night's launch meeting changed directions once students had a chance to confront UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman.

Senior Bryan Colbert spoke at length, accusing the chancellor of not doing enough, and not speaking from the heart.

"I've been disrespected up and down campus, my friends and I have been yelled at and called the N-Word," Colbert said in a crowded room of a few hundred students. "This is not helping me; action helps me. What have you done for me lately? You have done nothing."

Perlman responded, saying he's dealt with every incident of racism that's been reported to him.

He followed that up by sharing his own experience.

"Many, many years ago, I grew up in a town as the only Jewish kid, the only one who had ever gone through the high schools there," Perlman said. "So, I think I know a little.  Not the same as you, I don't wear it on my face, but I've been there, and I understand it."

The campaign started in response to a student senator using the N-word during an ASUN meeting to demonstrate his right to free speech.

That incident was followed by a racial epithet being written in chalk on a campus sidewalk.

At Monday night's meeting, other allegations about racially-insensitive skits during homecoming week were also brought to the chancellor's attention.

Still, others spoke to the chancellor and the crowd with a voice of optimism.

"We as individuals have to move forward, we can't keep living in the past," hall director Tolu Kayode said. "When we see something wrong, speak up, but speak up in the right way."

Fifth-year senior Nicholas Banks echoed similar statements.

"Eventually you have to stop pointing and that hand has to start doing," he said. "I don't care if you're an administrator, a senior or a freshman."

Administrators say the goal of the "Not here, not now, not ever" campaign is to develop a comprehensive plan on how to deal with racial issues and open up lines of conversation.

They said you can expect several events centered around Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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