By Naomi Overby
Around 20 students and faculty and staff gathered in the Fireside Room in Bud Robinson to talk and pray during chapel on Tuesday.
The event was hosted by a few faculty members who had heard from students that they were uncomfortable attending chapel if Gov. Bill Lee was speaking. Some students on campus expressed concern about Lee’s views on issues like immigration and tuition for DACA students.
“When the chapel schedule came out…we just started listening to students, having conversations with each other. There were faculty that were being curious about how to be a part of charitable discourse but also how to support students,” said Elizabeth Nunley, assistant professor of social work.
Twelve students and 10 faculty and staff members attended the meeting.
Trevecca President Dan Boone hosted meetings, one with faculty and one with all employees, in the days leading up to Lee’s visit on campus.
During those meetings, faculty were told they were free to support students who had concerns or felt unsafe about the visit. A few faculty members had the idea to host an alternative event that students could come to in order to feel heard, seen, and safe.
Nunley said that there was a desire to help students discern the differences and options of protesting versus community conversations or safe spaces.
“That’s really what we wanted to offer. It is a protest to not go, to show up in a space, and speak your truth. It happened in a way that felt meaningful and productive,” Nunley said.
The event started off with the attendants circling up for prayer and a few words shared by faculty members.
Announcements were made to let students know the intention of the group, giving students a space to still share community without attending chapel. Students and faculty then moved to sitting in a circle and introducing themselves and were given a space to say why they attended and any concerns they had. The event closed out in prayer.
Baskets were placed in the room, one containing materials for students to still participate in the letter writing to Gov. Lee or to other people, and the other was for prayer requests.
Ariana Catalan, a senior business management major, comes from a family of immigrants, and has friends and family who are DACA recipients.
Catalan attended the event because she feels directly affected by the governor’s visit to campus, and is thankful that professors let students know by hosting this event that they are concerned for them.
“I feel more assured about our safety. I feel that there are people who actually care for us or care for DACA recipients,” Catalan said.