Update 11/15: This article has been updated with an additional quote from Dilts.
Update 11/16: This article has been updated with corrections to the information on the history department's display.
Students have taken to twitter to share their experiences and express concerns students of color have on campus, using the hashtag #BlackatLMU. Students, alumni and faculty have posted with the hashtag.
The tag began spreading after students at an LMU basketball game saw the predominantly black dance team, Lion Pride, performing out of uniform, and on the bleachers, instead of on the court, according to a Facebook post by ASLMU Senator for Diversity. Since the hashtag started, Vandalena Mahoney, a junior communication studies major, has met with the administration to express concerns and shared #BlackatLMU’s mission statement.
Posts with the #BlackatLMU hashtag date as early as Nov. 3 on Twitter, with two videos from Miranda Trillgallen. The first video showed the predominantly white cheer team performing on the court and the second showed Lion Pride performing on the sidelines.
Black students and alumni continue to tweet in the hashtag, many citing “micro-aggressions” they have experienced on campus, in classrooms and from peers.
Melissa Cedillo, junior theology major, expressed support for #BlackatLMU on social media and the students posting in the tag. Faculty including professor Andrew Dilts have also shared encouragement and support for the students.
“Am following #blackatLMU and feeling very lucky to learn from these amazing students,” Dilts said in a tweet.
The mission statement shared by Mahoney said that #blackatLMU is a movement that aims to promote and stimulate positive change in the community, in separate posts she encouraged others to look at the hashtag on Twitter.
“It is not about bashing the university, or bashing white people,” the post said. “#BlackatLMU is about providing a platform where Black experiences are shared, acknowledged and validated [...] We hope this movement will serve as a catalyst for a more inclusive campus environment.”
Aaliyah Flowers, a member of the Lion Pride team, told the Loyolan that the dance team is not being banned or told they can’t perform at halftime. She believes that the movement began because students “were expressing their disapproval of the decreased role Lion Pride is playing in the gameday experience this year compared to last year.”
"I hope that #blackatlmu will help raise awareness about the various lived experiences that Black students have at LMU, which is a predominantly and historically white institution," Dilts said in an email to the Loyolan. "As a teacher at LMU, I [am] incredibly proud to see our students taking initiative to bring their concerns to light, and excited to see these conversations spill over into the classroom. Faculty, staff, and the administration should be following the hashtag and really listening to what our students are saying."
History department chair Elizabeth Drummond collected several #blackatLMU tweets to add to a display in LMU's history department that was up from Oct. 31 until Martin Luther's birthday on Nov. 10. A Facebook post posted by the history department about the display invited members of the community to add their own contributions. Similar to the 95 Thesis anniversary display in the lobby of the Hannon Library, the display resembled ‘church doors’ for LMU community members to post their own theses, disputations and critiques, according to Drummond.
“I’m here to listen and to learn from students and colleagues and then do whatever I can to make LMU a more just and inclusive campus,” Drummond, the organizer of the display, said. “We talk a lot about social justice, solidarity with and for others at LMU, and that means addressing issues of injustice not just in the world outside our campus but also on it.”