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Weekly College News Roundup: Student Reaction to the Trayvon Martin Verdict

George Zimmerman declared “not guilty” in court


After Saturday’s late-night ruling that released George Zimmerman from a year-long legal battle that started after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African American boy walking in Zimmerman’s neighborhood. Zimmerman’s attorneys claimed that the fatal shots were fired in self-defense and the jury agreed, but many college students believe they were wrong:

“This is a time of national mourning – specifically for black people in this country. I do not wish to expend energy trying to explain why this is to anyone.” – Kristian Davis Bailey, Stanford University

51e4d08078803.imageProtests were planned after the verdict at a number of schools, including UT Arlington:

“We feel that this peaceful protest will let our voices be heard regarding whether racial profiling or injustice was involved…” – Micah Okoro, University of Texas at Arlington

While the isolated case of Trayvon Martin’s death will be debated long into the future, many have taken it to represent a broader issue of racial inequality in the justice system and throughout America:

“[The ruling] reinforces the idea that African-Americans will always be one of the most feared and misunderstood races in our Divided States of America.” – Junius Randolph, Northwestern University

Despite the outcry against the jury’s verdict, the overall feeling was hopeful:

“One of the takeaways from the Trayvon Martin case…is to take up the challenges of ensuring peace by fighting unequivocally for social justice in all of its forms. This goes beyond symbolic acts of protest and gestures. What we must embrace is real community engagement. We must work to undermine those forces that continue to divide us, to understand and promote human solidarity.” – Dr. Yohuru Williams, Fairfield University

“We’re the ones living in an unjust world, and if we don’t stand up to it, nothing’s going to happen.” – Jesse Smith, University of Florida

Zimmerman’s acquital may not be the end of this issue though. It’s possible that the Martin family could bring a civil suit against Zimmerman, and the Department of Justice is now investigating the killing as a possible hate crime.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Appointed Head of California College System


homelandsecurity -TBWhile the news was largely dominated by the Zimmerman verdict, there was also big news for University of California students. Former US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was selected as the university system’s new president. President Obama wished her luck as she left the White House:

“Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values… And as she begins a new chapter in a remarkable career of public service, I wish her the best of luck.” – Barack Obama

UC’s Student Regent also liked the selection:

“I think the University is developing a much more concrete understanding of its potential influence in the state legislature … and building of relationships with the capitol. So in that sense, I think (Napolitano) is going to be very effective.” – Cinthia Flores

But student groups weren’t quite as satisfied with Napolitano. Students say that her record on immigration does not reflect the values that students in the UC system share:

“This is our school’s leadership and they’re not even considering the experiences of undocumented students…Just consider if there’s an undocumented student in the UC whose family member has been deported because of Napolitano’s policy.” – Seth Ronquillo, UCLA

A petition has been started by students to remove the new president, but with so much political weight behind her, an upheaval seems unlikely.

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