By Jazmin Conner
Students at this university couldn’t agree on the next steps at a Justice for Jordan rally Thursday.
The rally was planned by the SGA before the firing of this university’s football coach DJ Durkin. After the breaking news, it was announced that the event would continue with a new goal in mind. The problem was that many students stood divided on what the new goal was.
The rally started seemingly unified with students gathering at McKeldin Library with signs that read, “Let Students Speak” and “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.” SGA Vice President Ro Nambiar ardently chanted into the megaphone, “What do we want?” and the student body enthusiastically replied, “Justice.”
“Our first step is to strongly support our student athletes,” Nambiar declared, and the crowd erupted in applause. She then encouraged students to attend more football games and to stay the entire time as a sign of support.
Students started marching to the administration building chanting for justice, but not soon after arriving, dissension erupted in the crowd. People began to loudly express disagreement with the SGA’s plan of action.
A chant to “boycott” broke out until the voices of students in the crowd began to drown out those of the speakers. In response, Nambiar began to shout over the crowd, “I asked for one thing and that was respect.”
Trey Huff, a senior biochemistry major, supported the notion of boycotting athletic games. “We should be boycotting the athletic department to show that we’re not going to accept this type of toxic environment from the athletic department,” he said. “Supporting the program is just putting more money in the pockets of the people who are responsible for the death of Jordan McNair.”
Sharon Kimemia, a junior criminology and criminal justice major, expressed strong distrust and disagreement with the SGA’s methods as well. “We can’t keep giving [student administration] like ‘oh you know they tried’ participation points. No, things need to get done,” she said.
Monique Small, a junior criminal justice and criminology major, became dissatisfied with the rally after hearing Nambiar’s initial speech and the subsequent chant for justice. She decided not to march with the crowd to the administration building.
“We can’t just say justice. We need to put policies in place.” she said. “I think that’s why we elect student body officials because they are supposed to have these answers.”
Some students attended the rally because they didn’t believe firing Durkin was enough to create change in the athletic department.
“Durkin is the head coach of the football program, but if I’m correct the athletic director is still here,” Small said. ”How do we know that change is going to happen because a part of the problem is still here?”
Despite some dissension, students weren’t completely disappointed with the march.
Jordan Bridges, a freshman biology major, said she thinks the rally is necessary to tell the administration that students aren’t happy. “I’m glad that people feel like they can speak out,” she said.
“I’ve done movements where it was pretty much making noise and like really expressing your public outrage and stuff,” Huff said. “Those movements are good for getting media attention and the university has shown that they will move on something once media attention is received.” He said he still stands on that the energy of the march was misdirected.
James T. Brady, the chairman of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, resigned four hours after the march.
“It’s kind of hard to pinpoint one thing that’s going to change the whole climate of the university because this is a build-up of stuff,” said Small.
“The way the school is institutionally, they just do things because they just have to,” Kimemia said. “They don’t really do things because they actually feel like in their hearts that this is the best thing to do.”