By Matt Kiernan
The NAACP and other campus organizations held a rally at the Student Center circle Wednesday to address racism on campus, and especially the allegation that a former cross country runner was forced to drink blood by his coach in the 2005-2006 season.
Former athlete Charles Ngetich filed a lawsuit in September against his former coach George Kawecki and claims that in addition to subjecting him to racist remarks, the coach also forced him to drink blood in the presence of teammates.
“This rally isn’t just about one issue, this is about a constant repetitive thing that happens on campus,” said Black Student Union President Patrick Williams. He emphasized that instead of concentrating on schoolwork, students find themselves having to fight for causes because racist acts keep occurring on campus.
Signs were raised high reading, “Don’t just talk diversity, end racism in the university,” and, “The University must not remain silent,” with a mural of Malcolm X and a painting of a face wrapped up in bandages signifying the university’s quiet behavior on the matter near the back of the stage.
Pages were passed around in support of the campus organization the Youth for Socialist Action and of comments left on the New Britain Herald Web site that were in support of former track and cross country coach Kawecki.
“I believe in drinking the blood of Jesus, but not the blood of man,” New Britain NAACP President Ronald Davis said.
Davis asked that the “wrappings” and “bandages” be taken off the face of the university to speak out on the matter.
“If it doesn’t, it tells me that it encourages such activity,” said Davis, while he praised youth involvement with the crowd of students who gathered in the Student Center circle and said that the university needs that energy from its students.
During the event, YSA President Marissa Blaszko began a chant by yelling, “When students rights are under attack!” The crowd responded with yells of, “Stand up and fight back!”
A theme of the speakers who attended the event was that it’s not fine for people to ignore racist and discriminatory incidents on campus; they believed that an injury to one is an injury to all.
“If it wasn’t for African-Americans, Latinos wouldn’t be here today,” said Vice President of the NAACP- CCSU chapter, Jasiel Leguisamon. Leguisamon recalled a time when he was jumped and beaten on campus and almost decided to transfer to another university because of it.
President of the NAACP- CCSU chapter, Martine Bernadel mentioned that since the two years she’s attended CCSU, she has seen terrible acts of racism and discrimination acted upon students and friends. She asked the crowd to think about how it would feel to be far away from home and be treated in such a way that Ngetich has.
“When do we stop relying on others to do the job for us?” asked Bernadel.
Students were asked to wear white t-shirts to the rally so that they could write their stories and promote peace on each other’s shirts.