By Emily Ramser
Salem students protested what they feel is a lack of response from the college’s administration today, April 12 regarding the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, more commonly known as HB2.
About 30 students participated in the protest rally, including members of the current and incoming SGA Executive Board. They held signs with various sayings and hashtags such as “Oppse HB2,” “#BlackLivesMatter” and “We Stand #InSolidarity NCQTPOC” and chanted sayings such as “Fight for freedom, make a change” and “What do we want? A statement.” as they marched.
The protest, lead by Fleer student Christina Novaton, began in front of the student center at noon. Students later marched to President Lorraine Sterritt’s house and then to the Inspector’s House where her office is located before heading back to the student center. They also briefly entered the Refectory to garner more student support.
“I chose to protest today because I, among other people, were very unsatisfied with the response Salem College gave regarding HB2,” says senior Dana Barnhil when asked why she was protesting. Barnhill along with senior Sara Tolbert, junior Krys Gidtrey, sophomore Cynthia Suryawan, and first-year Nicole Shoults helped Novaton with organizing the rally.
On April 7, the Board of Trustees and President Sterritt issued a statement via email regarding HB2. The email stated that the law would not cause any changes to Salem’s policies and procedures. Additionally, they said that they would uphold Salem’s commitment to nondiscrimination and that they would continue monitoring the situation.
In a speech to the collect students at the rally, Gidtrey told their own story of identifying as gender fluid and the struggles they have faced as such. Gidtrey who also shared their story at City Hall on HB2 in March. They followed the story, by asking Salem College to take action in regards to HB2.
“I feel like I go to a school that is supposed to be diverse and inclusive, but it doesn’t feel that way,” says Gidtrey, “The quote on quote statement we got I believe Thursday wasn’t enough for me. They need to take a stand.”
The group of protesting students posted the following list of demands to the door of The Inspector’s house and handed them out to various passing members of administration such as Dean Krispin Barr and President Sterritt’s husband Bert Lain.
The list of demands consists of the following:
- Issue a public statement opposing HB2 that clearly outlines how Salem plans to plans to protect its LGBTQ students, faculty and staff members.
- Appoint a more diverse Board of Trustees that better reflects and represents the diverse interests of Salem’s wider community.
- Create and implement a more comprehensive Transgender Policy that is inclusive of transgender students who may apply for admission and protective of transgender students currently enrolled at Salem.
- Amend the Nondiscrimination Policy in the student handbook so that policy includes not just sex but gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
- Amend the Harassment Policy in the student handbook so that the policy includes not just gender, but gender expression.
The leaders of the protest met with Sterritt and Barr today at 3pm, but thus far, there has been no public response from the College to the students’ demands.