In a continued effort to combat systemic racism, SUNY Cortland, in conjunction with the Black Student Union, Campus Activities and Corey Union Office, Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, NAACP and Residential Life and Housing Office, held the first of three public forums for the fall semester on Sept. 16.
The Black Lives and Liberation Forum Series grants the Cortland community an opportunity to speak and listen on topics related to systemic racism, racial justice and current events as well as build a communal space for improvement at SUNY Cortland.
The Sept. 16 forum, held in collaboration with the Greek Multicultural Council (GMC), discussed the involvement of culturally based Greek organizations in anti-racism advocacy and the experiences of similar organizations on the Cortland campus.
There are 10 culturally based sororities and fraternities active at the university, each dedicated to giving back to their campus and local communities, along with different philanthropies and organizations nationwide.
These organizations aid students in navigating a student body that is 75% white, give them a platform to voice their opinions and provide access to a vast network of alumni to assist in the pursuit of opportunities after graduation.
The Greek Multicultural Council serves to create unity between the cultural Greek organizations and offer a place of belonging for students on campus.
Current GMC President Jasmiri Valerio is a senior Africana studies major, Bronx native and president of her sorority, Omega Phi Beta. She also is vice president of the NAACP chapter on campus.
“Being part of an organization such as a sorority, you have these sisters and brothers for life,” said Valerio. “I found a sense of belonging on campus. It’s a family.”
As GMC president, Valerio applies her experience in Omega Phi Beta to the “bigger realm of the council to see what [she] can do to help all GMC organizations.”
When not participating in community service, GMC advocates for activism on and off campus. Over the summer, members of GMC participated in Black Lives Matter protests in New York City and across New York state.
Valerio believes that in order to see change on a national level, there must be change locally first. To achieve this, the GMC and similar organizations on campus call for public support.
“I would say the best thing would be to listen, understand and be supportive in any way the campus community can,” said Valerio. “We want to not only see the students of color, but also white students too. We want to see staff and administration. If we’re just reaching a certain community of people, how is that going to make a change?”
There will be two more forums during the fall semester, one on Thursday, Oct. 15 and another on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Both events will be hosted on Webex from 4 to 6 p.m. Campus community members are encouraged to check their email for registration links.
For more information on the forums and other MLDO programs, visit the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office webpage.
For more information on the Greek Multicultural Council, visit their Instagram profile at @cortland.gmc.
Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Shannon Imbornoni