Latino students meet with Kent State leaders following 'build that wall' chant at homecoming parade

Posted at 5:15 PM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 19:29:06-04

Members of the Spanish and Latino Student Association at Kent State University met with administrators Tuesday afternoon to voice their concerns after they heard "build that wall" chants during Saturday's homecoming parade.

A few students who belong to the group, also known as SALSA, met with some KSU leaders to explain what happened, while also hoping to generate further conversation on campus.

Victor Benton, a fifth-year senior who marched with SALSA, said the group sang, danced and carried several flags - including the American and Mexican flag - as they made their way along the parade route.

He said the good times changed as they made their way through fraternity row.

"As we were walking through, we heard one group from outside of a frat house chant, 'Build that wall, build that wall,'" Benton recalled.

Saron Rivera, a junior, said she felt angry and confused, but immediately thought of her parents who moved to the U.S. from Mexico for a better life.

"I just raised my flag higher, and I cheered, and I was just trying to make it through with everybody else," Rivera said.

Members of the organization felt the chant was a reference to comments made by Donald Trump during the Presidential election regarding immigration policies.

"Obviously, I can't speak for what those people actually felt. Maybe they thought it was a joke. Maybe they were just drunk," Benton said. "The thing I most want out of this is that they understand that whether it was a joke, whether it was a drunken chant, it hurt people."

The group mentioned the incident on their social media accounts, prompting a response on Twitter from Kent State University President Beverly Warren.

She said she was "sorry to hear this report" and promised to have a university vice president look into it.

It's not clear whether the chanters were fraternity members, if they could be identified, or if the university could investigate any disciplinary action.

SALSA plans to paint the campus rock on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and hold a non-violent demonstration by linking arms and creating a "symbolic wall."

Kent State University released a statement regarding the incident and their meeting with the organization: 

Kent State Student Affairs leaders had a positive conversation with the leaders of the Spanish And Latino Student Association (SALSA) this afternoon to listen to group members about their experience at the Homecoming parade. We will continue to work together to cultivate an environment of respect and inclusion consistent with the university’s core values.