September 3, 2020

U of L has double standards when it comes to protests

By Zachary Baker–

This year has been a chaotic year for many of us, but especially so for the African American community. With the many killings of unarmed people by the police, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been in the national spotlight. Louisville has seen months of protests demanding justice for the killing of Louisville resident Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Metro Police Department. 

One of the protests, held right by Cardinal Stadium on Aug. 25, had an interesting response from the U of L administration which seemed almost hypocritical to their statements of support for the movement. 

When the group of protesters formed sometime after 3 p.m., several emails went out through the university’s RAVE system—normally used to alert students to robberies or other dangers on campus. 

The university sent the emails to alert students to the protests forming. They recommended students and faculty avoid the area. 

“University leadership has been monitoring the news surrounding potential upcoming protests in our city, including a planned demonstration today at 2 p.m.,” President Bendapudi wrote in an email to students Aug. 25.

The emails that followed were to ensure that students were aware of law enforcement presence in the area and that arrests were made—though the protest remained peaceful. The emails came in one after another so that students were frequently updated. There were a total of 4 emails. 

While this may not seem like too much of an issue, it is a strange position to take. They’re telling students to “avoid the area” of a protest against police violence while also defending the position of the protestors. 

But let’s compare this protest to the primarily-white gun march on campus in 2017. The gun march saw students carrying semi-automatic rifles around campus in the wake of several mass shootings across the campus and even the deaths of students around campus from gun violence. 

The university’s approach was to keep young children inside. But they did not warn the campus of any dangers around the event despite the involvement of weapons.

In fact, the campus did not limit the protests too much. Matthew Glowicki, a writer for The Courier-Journal, wrote that people drove by honking or showing support for the march.

Shelby Brown, former Louisville Cardinal Editor-in-Chief said that students were concerned by the march, with several people believing the march was to intimidate students on campus and to show a sense of dominance with the weapons. 

Despite the gun march’s involvement of active weapons and close proximity to campus, it was treated similarly to how we allow religious groups on campus to operate. Compare that reaction to how the university treated the BLM protest by Cardinal Stadium. The university treated it as if it was a danger to students and required immediate police intervention. 

We can’t be sure that this difference is due to the racial differences or the change in the administration since then. But the difference between the public language of the university when promoting racial justice and their language when alerting students to racial protests on campus is concerning.

We can hope that the university considers how the differences in their language affects how the student body trusts them and their actions.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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