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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Champine: Protest to Protect Those Fighting for DEI

As students, we have a responsibility to stand strong in the face of organized institutional violence. A University of Utah without DEI is not a U anyone deserves.
Students+and+speakers+pose+for+a+picture+at+the+end+of+the+Tampa+5+talk+in+the+Carolyn+and+Kem+Gardner+Commons+Building+on+the+University+of+Utah+Campus+in+Salt+Lake+City+on+Monday%2C+Oct.+23%2C+2023.+%28Photos+by+Luke+Larsen+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Luke Larsen
Students and speakers pose for a picture at the end of the Tampa 5 talk in the Carolyn and Kem Gardner Commons Building on the University of Utah Campus in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. (Photos by Luke Larsen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

On March 6, 2023, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society protested Florida Gov. Ron Desantis’ attacks on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Within 30 days of the protest, Tampa police arrested four students and charged them with assaulting police officers. A fifth turned herself in after a warrant was issued for her arrest. The students, five young women, now refer to themselves as the Tampa 5.

Over the past year, the Tampa 5 toured across the U.S., garnering support to fight their charges and advocate for DEI in education. On Oct. 23, 2023, University of Utah students joined Chrisley Carpio of the Tampa 5 to chant “Protesting is not a crime, justice for the Tampa 5!”

U students face the same grim reality as the Tampa 5. Protesting for DEI becomes harder and harder when campus police and offices obstruct our voices. The U’s own Students for a Democratic Society condemned police for their response to a Nov. 1 protest against transphobia.

Stop silencing student voices that advocate for DEI. We must protect inclusive lessons, gender studies and sex education in Utah schools, because students deserve access to programs that uplift their gender identity and sexuality.

Why Fight?

Gender studies programs uplift marginalized voices and give women a place in research, which can empower students when college curriculums still prioritize men. DEI can also foster comprehensive sex education, which improves sexual health and highlights consent, contraception and abstinence. But despite this, Utah has waged its own war against DEI and women.

Planned Parenthood fought back hard against state abortion bans, but the right to choose remains in danger. Utah consistently ranks last in the nation for women’s equality. Book bans are spreading like wildfire across Utah, criminalizing queer characters and women. Groups such as Utah Parents United seek to rid schools of comprehensive sex education, and Utah teachers’ curriculum faces forced scrutiny.

And our own institution, the University of Utah, is no help. In an interview with the Chronicle last summer, Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal of the U’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion failed to respond to repeated questions about what the U would do if DEI bans passed in Utah.

If the U cannot promise students the diverse curriculum they deserve, then we deserve protections against those who seek to silence us.

Encouraging Words

Carpio, the Tampa 5 member who spoke at the U, is a long-time supporter and member of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society, as well as a former employee of University of South Florida. She is a Filipina immigrant who was introduced to SDS at their orientation protest to raise wages for immigrant farmers.

In an interview with the Chronicle, Carpio detailed how police attacked students mid-speech without warning at the March 6 protest. She said the police kept her and other members of the Tampa 5 in hot police cars and debated their future charges in front of them. She was later charged with assaulting a police officer, and soon after, Carpio lost her job at USF.

“This has made lifetime organizers out of us,” Carpio said. “Young people care more than ever. The purpose of all of this is to make us afraid, so that’s the last thing we’re going to let them do.”

What happened to the Tampa 5 could happen to U students one day.

As students, we have a responsibility to stand strong in the face of organized institutional violence. A U without DEI is not a university anyone deserves.

Go to protests. Sign petitions. Keep showing up to the programs that matter to you. And don’t allow police to make criminals out of protestors.

The noble push to protect DEI must continue. It is not a crime to fight for what is right and it never will be.

“If enough students band together, we could win,” Carpio said. “Protect the right to learn about women’s, gender and ethnic studies. They were won through student protests. Do whatever you can to keep them.”

 

[email protected]

@MorganChampine

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About the Contributors
Morgan Champine
Morgan Champine, Assistant Opinion Editor
(they/them) Morgan Champine is pursuing a career in creative writing and majoring in English. Morgan was born and raised in Utah, and when they're not writing, they're attending concerts, exploring the outdoors, and reading.
Luke Larsen
Luke Larsen, Photographer
(he/him) Luke started at the Chronicle in the fall of 2023. He is currently studying anthropology. He has worked as a professional portrait photographer since 2021 in Waco, Texas, where he has lived for the past ten years. He is originally from Los Angeles, California and loves Dim Sum.

Comments (1)

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  • M

    MikeDec 14, 2023 at 11:35 pm

    The right to free speech does not include the right to infringe upon the freedoms of others. Actions have consequences and if you act like a fool and cause a disturbance, you should get to enjoy the company of the diverse population in the local jail.

    Reply