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APU students talk about the response to the death of George Floyd in their community and Overheard at APU.

In a time of a global pandemic, Azusa Pacific University student voices are being raised on social media in response to George Floyd’s death. This has led to discussions about racial injustice. 

For some, the response on social media has been positive and has brought awareness, according to Maxwell Wilson’s experience who is a senior psychology and honors humanities major. Others see it as a step in the right direction, such as Joshua Dobos who is a senior interdisciplinary studies major. Some students, like Avery Foster, a senior psychology and honors humanities major, emphasize the importance of the motives behind the post. 

Foster also anticipates people having a loud voice on social media will help others get educated and take action. For her, it is important that all voices are heard. This is why she took issue with Overheard at APU deleting student responses to the death of Floyd. 

“I think it is wrong that Overheard at APU has silenced voices,” said Foster. “I do understand what the admin said, how it is not the place. It used to be funny little things like that. So people getting into debates and fights isn’t the point. I feel like this situation is different. It is a time where it needs to be talked about.”  

Admin Anthony Morres’ response to the controversy was to direct students to a page that has been created for opinions: Candid Cougs. The pinned post on Overheard says that petitions, rants or discussion are not their intent. 

Morres continued this sentiment on Candid Cougs and said in a reply to a comment, “I understand that many of you have opinions you wish to share… as you should! What is occurring in the world currently is beyond horrendous and it’s shameful that our world is full of hate and racism and not with love. However, OaA [Overheard at APU] is not the designated place to post those feelings but simply for overheard humorous discussions that occur on campus.”

Foster said that although resources have been taken down from Overheard at APU, it is impossible to avoid awareness about Black Lives Matter. Resources can be found through plenty of other posts on social media. 

“It is a digital library,” said Dobos in regard to social media awareness. “There are so many things that people are saying, read this or listen to this podcast. As an educated consumer, [it’s] important to be critical of the resources you are reading into.”  

With this activism developing into a theme, Wilson said he desires this new enlightenment to encourage students to be humble, listen and enact change.

“I have seen a lot of students of color be judged or have words put in their mouth,” said Wilson. “I have seen discomfort in regards to leadership training, an absolute lack of understanding, but there are lots of students who do well. There is a really different response happening now.” 

These conversations can be a tricky thing to maneuver on social media. Wilson said he doesn’t try to get into arguments there. However, if someone is open to a conversation, it is best to do it over Zoom. 

“My faith also makes me think very deeply about what I am doing. If the command is to love someone, well… I have to make sure it is not about me and helps me to be reflective,” said Wilson. “It’s really hard to constantly bring it all up, but I have been really convicted to do this long term in my own personal life. To post bible verses to broaden people’s live world. Because of Jesus, I have more drive to be open and to be kind and to do all of that well.” 

Wilson also said before Floyd’s death, he could count the number of people who had posted about racial injustice on his hand. He continued to say it will be interesting to see what happens after societal pressure is removed. 

Dobos echoed this same response. He hopes more students will become more engaged and be at events that promote discussion around racial injustice. 

“Everyone and their mother is saying something on social media, but I think my greatest hope is that people show up,” said Dobos. 

Updated 6/6 at 9:54 p.m.