• Guin Thi
  • Fidel Leal
  • Kemal Atkins ’92 ’96
  • Susan M. Branch ’99
  • Brian Shangwa ’15
  • Ray Christian
  • Sarah Mbiki
  • Traci Royster

Appalachian stands in solidarity with Orlando

June 30, 2016

On Monday, June 13, more than 170 members of the Appalachian State University and High Country community gathered in the Solarium at Plemmons Student Union in remembrance of those whose lives were taken and endangered by the mass shooting in Orlando on Sunday, June 12.

In attendance were students, faculty, staff and community members, new students joining Appalachian’s campus for the first time, their parents and families, counselors, representatives from the university’s Henderson Springs LGBT Center, Multicultural Student Development and the Women’s Center, Florida residents visiting the High Country community, and members of the faith-based community from Boone and the surrounding area.

Chancellor Sheri N. Everts, Dean of Students JJ Brown and Student Government Association Vice President Kendrick Dawson addressed the group. Afterwards, attendees were invited to place flowers in two vases. The arrangements, along with resource materials, were displayed in the student union outside the Henderson Springs LGBT Center.

Remarks by Kendrick Dawson

Good evening, everyone. My name is Kendrick Dawson and I currently serve as the student body vice president here at Appalachian. As a representative of the Student Government Association I would like to say that it is nice to see all of you here despite the tragedy we have faced and I truly appreciate you all coming out. I would also like to thank the university for putting on this event this evening during this time of need.

When I found out what had happened in Orlando I was sitting at breakfast with my best friend, and we both froze, I was speechless. To learn that someone would commit this type of heinous crime was heartbreaking for the both of us and we were shocked. It was at that moment that I realized two important things:

One: that we are still facing bigotry and hate across our nation, specifically towards the LGBTQIA and Latin-x communities. I realized that 50 innocent lives were taken, 53 more put at risk, simply because of the identities in which they shared.

The second thing I realized is that it was up to me, up to us, to make a difference. WE are the catalyst for change. I realized it is time for me to recognize and understand my privileges and how I can use them for the betterment of not only Appalachian, but for humanity as well.

My heart aches for not only Orlando, but for members of the LGBTQIA and Latin-x communities targeted in this hate crime. We must realize and understand that at this time, we are not just a school encompassing roughly 20,000 students, faculty and staff members. We are a community that prides itself on standing up for what is right and coming together to enact change.

We are a community that strives to make a difference. Not standing up against the injustices this act has committed is not living up to the expectations we each share as Mountaineers. It’s our turn to make a difference. It’s up to us.

Times like this remind each one of us how important we are in the ally ship and support of underrepresented communities in all capacities. We are a community of LGBTQIA friends, Latin-x friends, and Muslim friends who are all specifically targeted by the aftermath of the Orlando events. It is time for us to stand with these communities. Thankfully, our Dean of Students office, Counseling Center, and LGBT Center are resources that are readily available to those in need.

It is unfortunate that is takes scenarios like these to bring us together; however, we are all fortunate enough to have an unwavering support system through our Appalachian Community. I encourage each of you to utilize one of the resources I just mentioned if you need help or simply just need someone to talk to.

We are all a part of one community. One that has incomparable amounts of support. One that encourages standing up and standing out. One that strives to make a difference. One that isn’t defined by the obstacles put forth against us; rather, by the constant care and support we have here at Appalachian.

Stand up for what is right, stand out against hatred and bigotry, it’s up to you. Thank you.