Western Courier

Dr.Hironimus-Wendt starts a new brown bag forum

Leah Murphy, Courier Staff

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Wednesday, Sep. 5, will mark the first weekly meeting of an open forum, brownbag lunch. These brownbag lunches are organized by Western Sociology Professor Hironimus-Wendt, as a place where Western Illinois University students, faculty, staff and community members can discuss the numerous concerns of racism on Western’s campus and in Macomb.

These brownbag lunches are open to all students, faculty, staff and community residents. The brownbag lunches will take place in the Brattain Lounge beginning around lunchtime.

Hironimus-Wendt believes location is important and took great care when selecting the location for weekly brownbag lunches. The University Union is not only a recognizable place for students and faculty, but recognizable for those off-campus as well, such as farmers and rural-residents in Macomb.

The Brattain Lounge is located right inside the University Union making it easily recognizable and accessible to all.

“The Brattain Lounge is open and has no doors,” Hironimus-Wendt said. “It’s full of light. It’s a public commons where everyone is equal and there’s no head of the table. Everyone is equal in a public commons area. Everyone has a right to speak and everyone has a right to be heard.”

Hironimus-Wendt didn’t like the idea of holding the weekly brownbag lunches in a classroom.

“I don’t like the idea of rooms because they have doors and they have a system of formal organization,” Hironimus- Wendt said.

“I don’t like formal organization. They define the issue instead of letting it be defined.”

Hironimus-Wendt’s brownbag lunches are a place for everyone to come talk about and address the racism on campus and in the surrounding area. It’s important that everyone at these brownbag lunches feels they have the right to speak and be listened to because racism happens everyone on campus and that it must be addressed. Hironimus-Wendt believes it’s time to start calling racism. One of Hironimus-Wendt’s goals with these brownbag lunches is to help educate people on why the problem is a problem and help others see why they need to change their ways.

Hironimus-Wendt shared some of the racist comments that have been brought to his attention. They are listed below:

“You’ve done well to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

“When black leadership leaves, Western will be a better place.

“We need more white Christian males and rural students at Western.

“Chicagoland suburban white students are too black-friendly.”

“There are too many black welfare students at Western.”

Hironimus-Wendt made it clear that the problem isn’t who said these statements; the problem is the fact that these statements are a common experience. The time to call out racism on campus and in our community is now and it begins with the weekly brownbag lunches. According to Hironimus-Wendt, there is a lot out there that is festering, and he intends to bring it to the surface.

“You can’t make change unless you address it openly and honestly. I’m hoping this can be a forum for people to come break bread together and address racism not only on our campus, but in our community.”

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Dr.Hironimus-Wendt starts a new brown bag forum