Students promote kindness, solidarity with minorities

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BYU students gather in front of the Joseph F. Smith Building on the BYU campus to promote kindness and stand in solidarity with minorities and other marginalized groups. (Gianluca Cuestas)

A group of BYU students gathered in front of the Joseph F. Smith building on the BYU campus to promote kindness and stand with minorities on Friday, Nov. 11.

“We were just really disturbed by all the hate crimes and the other things going on, especially in the aftermath of the election,” said Sophie Blair, one of the event organizers. “We were feeling really heartbroken and kind of powerless, not sure what we can do. We realized we can’t change what’s going on in our country, but we can make a difference here at our school.”

Blair, along with Sarah Christensen, spread sheets of paper with a pledge to be kind and support “racial minorities, ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, women, religious minorities and Muslims, individuals with handicaps, refugees, immigrants and everyone else” on the floor outside the JFSB. They and other demonstrators held signs that read “#StillStrongerTogether” and “#BeKind” and encouraged passersby to stop and sign the pledge.

Martina Bailey, a senior from Arkansas, signs the pledge outside the JFSB. (Gianluca Cuestas)

“We just hope that our entire community becomes a lot more loving and open and inclusive and that no one feels in danger of being marginalized and attacked,” Christensen said.

Blair and Christensen set up the demonstration after seeing the ‘people of color against Trump’ protest in the same location.

Because they don’t know where the pledge will hang yet, they’re asking supporters to share pictures of the pledge on social media with their hashtags in order to reach a wider audience.

“I think mostly we’re just trying to raise a bit of awareness, that people will realize that this is a problem and realize that they have the power to make a small difference,” said demonstrator Nial Tanner Bangerter.

The demonstration started on Thursday night, but Blair said so many people expressed interest that they decided to continue the demonstration on Friday.

“I think we’re going to keep doing it until we really feel like we’ve gotten our message across that this is BYU, this is a university that really believes in love and compassion and all the things that Jesus taught,” Blair said.

Julia Gomez, another student demonstrator, said she asked herself the day after the election if she was truly safe at BYU.

“Does half the population of the university think it’s OK to discriminate against me?'” Gomez said. “I just refuse to believe that. That’s not what BYU stands for. So we decided to come and make a pledge to kindness and acceptance for everyone.”

Christensen said she and the other demonstrators hope to help anyone who has felt attacked to feel safe.

“We just hope that our entire community becomes a lot more loving and open and inclusive and that no one feels in danger of being marginalized and attacked,” Christensen said.

Julia Gomez, one of the demonstrators, said the movement is open to everyone.

“It doesn’t matter who you voted for. It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs,” Gomez said. “We can agree to be kind.”

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