ANNVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Spreading love, not hate on campus — that’s the message from students who organized a walkout at Lebanon Valley College Wednesday in response to recent racial incidents on campus.
“It’s simple,” a sign promoting the event reads. If you’re in class, walk out; if you’re at lunch, walk out. Hundreds of people took that advice, marching off of campus under the banner of “#LVC4Change.”
“We just want to bring love back into the community,” freshman Jasmine Copeland said. “There’s not enough.”
Just love a little more, Ja’von Nelson said. He worked to animate the crowds walking through the streets of Annville, shouting, “Love conquers hate!”
“Everybody loves, and that’s in every culture,” Nelson said. “That’s one thing we have in common, so if we all love, then nobody can hate.”
The student-organized walkout through town picked up roughly 800 people — faculty, staff, and administrators included — at a school that enrolls about 1,600.
A class of young kids playing outside cheered as the group walked past, and a pastor rang his church bells to show support along the route.
“I’m sorry that they have to do this,” Kelly Mason said as her husband rang the bells at Christ Church United Church of Christ, “but I’m glad that they’re standing up and showing support.”
After recent racial incidents, including a racial slur written in marker on a student group’s building, they felt they did have to. The marchers gathered in front of that house to speak to one another.
“It’s not just groups that are suppressed,” one student said, holding back tears. “It’s everybody. Everybody’s here because everybody here supports each other, and we need to remember that, not just today but every single day.”
“We need to look at each other and look around us and know that everybody has felt hate and everybody deserves to feel love, no matter what color your skin, no matter how you live your life,” she went on. “Everybody deserves love.”
“Don’t make this the end,” another speaker implored.
“It’s got to continue from here on out,” sophomore Luis Vera said after the event ended and students dispersed. He and the other students vow it will. Simple as that.
“Love conquers everything,” Nelson said. “With love, everybody can come together as one.”
The LVC administration expressed support for more events to promote the #LVC4Change message that come up in the future.