UMR students host panel discussion about race in the classroom

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(ABC 6 News) – Students from the University of Minnesota-Rochester spoke from the heart Friday in an attempt to bring change and awareness to a classroom setting that they say doesn’t always support them.

Maimuna Aden a sophomore at UMR says there have been times she hasn’t felt welcomed in the classroom.

“As a Muslim woman, I’m always thinking about what people see online about me. I try to tell people I’m a gentle person and everything like that, but I always have those ideas and thoughts when I walk into a classroom,” said Aden.

She added often when she walks into a classroom there is a natural segregation as to where students sit and who they talk to.

Oscar Juarez Sanchez was another panelist he says there was the point in time when he felt like dropping out of college because of some situations that made him feel unwelcome in the classroom.

“We were talking about something to do with the border and one of my white peers was bragging about how they crossed the Canadian border,” said Juarez Sanchez.

“This peer got aggressive with me. I started getting scared and acting very aggressively toward myself. I just kind of froze calmed down and tried to move on. I say that I was alone in this another student who did not look like me referenced the same question and he spoke to her in a calm manner,” said Aden.

The two panelists hope that sharing their experiences with others will inspire change.

“I really do hope that people start reaching out to underrepresented minorities. That they start talking with students of color and that they branch out on their life experiences and increase their cultural wealth,” said Juarez Sanchez.

Aden says that based on the numerous people who attended both in person and virtually that she is confident change is on the horizon.
“I am very grateful for everybody who showed up that shows me that the u-m-r community cares and we are ready to start some change…Everyone needs to come together because we are all Americans,” said Aden.

She is going to continue to work with leadership groups she is involved in, to spread her story and create change.