Cornell’s William Heisenberg wanted to show some solidarity with the protests going on at the University of Missouri, Yale and Ithaca, so he began to organize one at his school.
Except William forgot one (major) thing: He did not consult any black students ahead of time.
As a result, he had to apologize to the Black Student Union which had informed him that he should have consulted them first, and then he canceled the whole shebang at the BSU’s request.
A couple hours after the Facebook event page for a “#ConcernedStudent2015 protest” was created, many students began to post on the page with concerns. Soon after, Black Students United posted on the event page, pointing out the lack of people of color in the planning and attendance of the event and requesting its cancellation.
“While we appreciate the solidarity and interest of our allies across campus, we would like to be able to address prejudice on this campus and campuses like it in our own way,” the post read. “In the future, please ask how you can support us before organizing on your own. With that in mind, we would appreciate the cancellation of this event.”
While commenters said they believed he was starting the event insincerely, Heisenberg said that his intentions of letting other voices be heard were sincere.
“I didn’t expect people to think that I was mocking them. I certainly didn’t want that to be the result,” Heisenberg said. “I was startled by people’s reactions, and I was hurt by the fact that I might have hurt other people … Other people should have their voices heard, and I don’t want to crowd them out or block them in any way.”
But, apparently the Black Student Union thought he was sincere, not to mention the Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A) de Cornell, which offered this comment to the Sun:
“As students of color, directly affected by racial discrimination, the power to dictate how change must come about is ours. The #ConcernedStudent2015 protest organized by Heisenberg disregards this notion, and instead perpetuates a white savior complex, placing the power to decide change in the hands of those not living our realities.”
Heisenberg was perfectly contrite in his apology about the whole imbroglio.