Large crowd gathers to end the isms.

by Ryan Rohlf

Students took a stand to End the Isms this past Friday as they gathered to rally against the pressing issues of racism, sexism, classism, ageism, homophobia and more.

The Living the Dream: March to End the Isms is in its ninth year on Simpson campus. A couple hundred students, faculty, staff, community members and Des Moines area groups joined forces to end the spread of hatred.

With the recent chain of discriminatory events nationally, such as the Trayvon Martin shooting or the killing of an Iraqi American, Walter Lain, the assistant dean for international and multicultural affairs, said we are reminded of how important it is that we need to re-double our efforts to fight discrimination.

“I think we need to have more events where we can actually have a dialogue and have discussions with others to at least understand where they are coming from,” Walter Lain said. “I think everyone initially thinks about racism and sexism, but I also know that classism, homophobia or the hatred in general is what it comes down to.”

This event consisted of a march around the Indianola community, as well as a post-march rally. Some of the speakers at the rally included students, staff and outside organizations. Stephanie Neve, service coordinator and assistant chaplain, said one speaker in particular really stood out.

“Folks from Best Buddies spoke about people with intellectual delays or disabilities,” Neve said. “They had one of the buddies, who has a disability, speak; and that was very powerful.”

AnaisBoulard, international teaching assistant, said she thought the march really highlighted the best that Simpson can give.

“I paid a lot of attention to this march and I really kind of regret not helping them organize it,”Boulard said. “We talked a lot over the year about racism here in Simpson, how we didn’t feel welcome sometimes; and today was a great day to see another aspect that some American people are committed to fight and to be involved to make the world better.”

EstefaniaAnaya, a freshman international student, said that coming to the march helped her better understand the problem of discrimination in the United States.

“You come here and you hear ‘yeah racism bad,’ and ‘you shouldn’t have those attitudes;’ but coming to the march was like really seeing the actions, not just the idea,” Anaya said. “It was like ‘yeah, it’s bad, so now we’re doing this to prevent it and to raise awareness.’ It feels so good to see a lot of people get why it is wrong; because it might be fairly easy for us to say ‘yeah, racism is wrong,’ because we are prone to experiencing it. Seeing people that are perfectly fine speaking out against racism, that wouldn’t necessarily experience racism is really good; and that feels really good.”

Freshman Nathan Schneider said that he went into this event not knowing how many people would be there. After seeing the turnout, he said he was very excited.

“It made me happy that so many other people supported the same hopes I have for our community,” Schneider said. “I feel that everyone deserves to be treated equally; and no matter what the circumstances, no one deserves to be harassed, bullied, beaten or killed just because of who they are.”

 Dana Lain, senior and head student coordinator of the Living the Dream: March to End the Isms,said that she was pleased with the turnout as well. She said her only concern was that when she asked people if they were coming, the typical response was that a lot of the people had never heard of the event.

“It (End the Isms) is something that I think Simpson, as a whole, should take pride in,” Dana Lain said. “I am hoping next year we will get a good group of people to volunteer and help plan the march because that is the most important thing. Seeing people are having fun and making a difference is totally worth it.”

One new piece added to the End the Isms event was the purchase of T-shirts for the participants. Neve, who attended the event the previous year as well, said she is hopeful that the T-shirts will be a good take away for the campus community.

“It is really easy to come to something like this and to get all fired up and then leave and forget that you had made a commitment or been moved,” Neve said. “Having the T-shirt will hopefully be a reminder to them, and the rest of campus, that we sort of made a promise here.”