Students share #DoesUIowaLoveMe stories at rally

More than 100 students gathered on campus Thursday to share their #DoesUIowaLoveMe stories.

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Students share #DoesUIowaLoveMe stories at rally

UI Student Dawson Davenport speaks during a rally for the #DoesUIowaLoveMe movement  in the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Students, university faculty, and community members gathered to tell their stories about belonging to marginalized cultural groups. Does UIowa Love Me is a collective of students that aims to give underrepresented students an outlet to share their experiences as people of color at a predominantly white institution.

UI Student Dawson Davenport speaks during a rally for the #DoesUIowaLoveMe movement in the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Students, university faculty, and community members gathered to tell their stories about belonging to marginalized cultural groups. Does UIowa Love Me is a collective of students that aims to give underrepresented students an outlet to share their experiences as people of color at a predominantly white institution.

Wyatt Dlouhy

UI Student Dawson Davenport speaks during a rally for the #DoesUIowaLoveMe movement in the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Students, university faculty, and community members gathered to tell their stories about belonging to marginalized cultural groups. Does UIowa Love Me is a collective of students that aims to give underrepresented students an outlet to share their experiences as people of color at a predominantly white institution.

Wyatt Dlouhy

Wyatt Dlouhy

UI Student Dawson Davenport speaks during a rally for the #DoesUIowaLoveMe movement in the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Students, university faculty, and community members gathered to tell their stories about belonging to marginalized cultural groups. Does UIowa Love Me is a collective of students that aims to give underrepresented students an outlet to share their experiences as people of color at a predominantly white institution.

Charles Peckman, News Reporter

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The social-media movement #DoesUIowaLoveMe has traveled from the internet to the University of Iowa campus.

More than 100 students, staff, and faculty gathered on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway Thursday afternoon to share stories, gather as a community, and take photographs for the movement’s social-media platforms.

The hashtag, which was launched Monday night, now has more than 1,000 tweets and Instagram posts highlighting concerns ranging from racial discrimination to issues revolving around xenophobia, homophobia, and white privilege. At the time of Thursday’s event, more than 600 students said they were “interested” in the rally on Facebook.

One UI student who spoke at the event, who wished to remain anonymous, said he encountered homophobia in the residence halls and was taken aback by the lack of inclusiveness at a seemingly “diverse” university.

“My roommate said ‘I want to move out because you’re gay,’” he said. “He said, ‘If you were straight and I was the gay one, you would understand.’”

Wyatt Dlouhy
UI student Chris Vazquez holds a picture frame during a rally for the #DoesUIowaLoveMe movement in the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Students, university faculty, and community members gathered to tell their stories about belonging to marginalized cultural groups. Does UIowa Love Me is a collective of students that aims to give underrepresented students an outlet to share their experiences as people of color at a predominantly white institution. 

UI senior Jaimeson Hicklin also said he has encountered situations of discrimination and urged the university administration to address its students’ concerns.

“I think we do have a diverse community here, but it is not being recognized or advocated for,” he said.

UI senior Dawson Davenport, a member of the Mesqwakie nation, said he does realize the university gives opportunities to people from marginalized groups. He also said that, on an administrative level, doesn’t seem to truly support these students’ success on and off campus.

“I was told I couldn’t be here because I am native,” Davenport said. “But I’m here. And I’m about to graduate.”

Davenport said people from marginalized groups need to “continue the fight,” but he realizes that it can be difficult and draining to do so. With that said, Davenport said moving forward, he hopes the many voices on campus will not be silent.

Wyatt Dlouhy
A student speaks during a rally for the #DoesUIowaLoveMe movement in the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Thursday, February 28, 2019. Students, university faculty, and community members gathered to tell their stories about belonging to marginalized cultural groups. Does UIowa Love Me is a collective of students that aims to give underrepresented students an outlet to share their experiences as people of color at a predominantly white institution.

“I wanted to go to college since I was in middle school,” he said. “Don’t let people tear us down.”

More than a dozen students shared their stories via megaphone during Thursday’s event. As the rally wrapped up and participants hugged and wiped away tears, many said they hope the momentum of #DoesUIowaLoveMe doesn’t slow down.

RELATED: #DoesUIowaLoveMe? UI students ask question in social-media movement

UI Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers, who was present at the event, shared a message with the university community on Thursday morning. She said she wants to “thank all of the brave people who shared their experiences and were courageous enough to address some difficult topics.”

“As a woman of color, a first-generation college graduate, and a leader at this institution I cannot be silent on issues of inclusion, equity, health, safety, and well-being,” she said in the message. “I want to be clear when I say to you that this campus believes you and stands with you. The many staff, faculty, and students here at the University of Iowa hear your stories and have read your posts on social media so we can work together to support you.”

Shivers said she is continuing to work on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan that will be shared with the UI on April 4.

“We will all have a responsibility to review and an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment, and I believe enough in this community to know that we can and we will,” she said. “However, it is not right to wait until that plan has taken shape to enact change or let you know that you and your experiences are seen and heard.”

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