Note: A friend asked if I’d share this FB post more widely. I refuse to make it global on FB, as it would then invite the inevitable cesspool of comments if it was shared widely. But feel free to link to this. It was my experience tonight (Sept 18, 2017) at the vigil for Scout Schultz, on the Georgia Tech campus.
I was there tonight. I thought it was a subtle but appropriate event, and it gave students space to grieve. Kudos to the Student Affairs and the PRIDE students for what was organized. The administration, or at least the public faces students know (Deans, President, Provost) were notably absent. I saw a few of my colleagues (including a School Chair and Vice-Provost), and I’m proud of you for showing up. None were recognized, nor was it appropriate to do so — this was by and for students.
When it was over, hundreds stayed around, and started yelling, discussing, grieving. Anger was voiced at how we got to this place, anger at GT’s President, anger at a lack of sufficient counseling services. From there it digressed into what I would call generalized anti-establishment anger: rage against buildings, statues, the income of the President, rankings, etc.
I did not think it would get this bad. I found myself unwittingly in the middle of the protesters (at least, I suspect it was the group that started the protests) and I have one observation: as far as I can tell, these were not Georgia Tech students. Or very few at least. When the memorial event was over and people started shouting back and forth, those advocating violence were resoundingly shouted down by other students.
Then the drums and banner appeared out of nowhere, and the F-the-Police chants started. I’d estimate it was no more than 50 people. When the drums started, Tech students’ notable apathy for protest (or a desire to go back and study) was true to form. Students left at an increasing rate, many to the student center and the counselors therein. A lot of students just wanted to be left alone and grieve.
I walked to my car. I got home 20 minutes later when the GT Emergency Alert was sent out.
This is the worst thing to happen to my campus in a generation. Torching a car? WTF is wrong with you people?