Nia Avila

“I try to give people benefit of the doubt because I assumed they were drunk and feeling that liquid courage, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior,” Senior Nia Monet Avila says about the incident that happened outside Holmes and McCabe last week.

All students received an email this past Monday explaining how on multiple occasions over the past week, Clemson students have been subjected to “racial slurs and other inappropriate conduct” while walking around campus. Nia was standing near the Holmes courtyard when a white pickup truck drove past Nia and her friends when the passengers yelled, “Black lives don’t matter!”

“I mean, I already knew how people felt about black lives so I wasn't really surprised by their message,” Nia said of the incident. The same pickup truck drove by a second time in silence, but the third time, sped by and the passengers “screamed at us ‘Go home!’ and ‘f**k you n****rs!’”

Nia is a beacon for equal rights. She serves as an activist for multiple civil rights groups, telling the Tiger that, “I’m really into social justice and feminism and learning about ways that we can make our society more just and equitable for all people.” Last year she participated in the Sikes Sit In which brought multiple people together to protest the racism which many feel is still very much present in Clemson’s university culture.

She also served as a Peer Dialogue Facilitator. Clemson Peer Dialogue, better known as the Community Dialogue, is a CU1000 course every freshman and transfer student has to attend during their first year at Clemson. There new students learn about being respectful of people’s differences and accepting one another’s diverse origins and beliefs. “Through that position I learned about different social issues that affect people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, the working class and different marginalized groups.”

She currently works as an Interpersonal Violence Prevention Intern in the Office of Access and Equity. In this position Nia works on ways to prevent sexual and relationship violence and on developing coping mechanisms for those who have been affected by such misconduct.

Nia was a counselor at the Clemson Summer Scholar program I attended my freshman year of high school and I can attest personally to her ability to inspire a group of people. Even three years later I remember her glorifying the diversity of herself and those around her. Nia is a psychology major from New York who loves to nap, eat ice cream and color in her coloring book, and she and all the other different racial communities here at Clemson deserve much more than to be the subjects of some heinous person’s racist and discriminatory remarks.

What these people who spread hate forget is that we are all human beings. Though we may have different interests or come from different places, we all are emotional people who are here to get an education. Therefore when you target any minority with hateful words, slander and so forth you should be aware that you are hurting real people. Honesty, integrity and respect are Clemson’s CORE values and are what every Clemson student should hold themselves accountable to embody.

We are all here for one reason and that is to get an education, and if we could all be respectful of one other that would be a lot easier. As Nia says, “I'm just trying to get this degree, man. I wish y'all would leave us alone.”

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