As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain momentum throughout the United States, Lehigh students have taken it upon themselves to make a difference in ways other than the BLMLehigh campaign and locally organized marches and protests. The Lehigh community has mobilized to spread awareness and make tangible change at Lehigh and beyond.
The advocacy comes amid recent criticism Lehigh has faced for its actions related to racial issues, including an open letter written to President John Simon and the university’s decision to remove pro-BLM images that appeared on campus.
As an architecture student just finishing 2D design, Ella Fabozzi, ‘22, used her newfound skills to create and sell stickers to fundraise for the movement.
“I don’t have much to donate but decided to use the tools that I had because I like making art and stickers, so it made sense to do a fundraiser like this,” Fabozzi said.
The stickers were designed on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Fabozzi said. She used Redbubble to print the stickers and individually packaged them with her mom when the shipment arrived.
To sell the stickers, Fabozzi posted her designs on Instagram to garner support. To make things simpler on both ends, Fabozzi’s followers filled their information out on a Google Form and paid through Venmo.
Fabozzi said she planned on donating to Reclaim the Block, which organizes the Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that promote community health and safety. With so much support, however, Reclaim the Block closed their donations.
Instead, Fabozzi raised $700 and donated evenly between Black Lives Matter and Minneapolis Sanctuary Hotel.
During the coronavirus quarantine, Joe Guzikowski, ‘20, began outdoor cycling. The furthest he’s ridden (until his latest fundraiser) was 30 miles.
When George Floyd was killed, Guzikowski wanted to honor his life and bring light to the issue of his death. He decided to bike 46 miles, Floyd’s age when he died, to do his part in the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a metaphor to Guzikowski, increasing his distance and fighting for air like Floyd did.
“I was just so frustrated with everything going on in the news,” he said. “I don’t exactly live in Philly or New York where I could go out and protest, so I was guilty in a sense for all the times I’ve been a bystander with this issue in the past.”
Gruzikowski said he wanted to do something where he could feel like he was physically making a difference.
Friends and family shared the news of Guzikowski’s ride and his GoFundMe page across social media platforms. His original goal was $460, but he’s now raised over $1,600.
Guzikowski said he was overwhelmed with the support he got from not only close friends at Lehigh, but people he didn’t necessarily know well during his time there.
“I think there is still an incredible amount of work to be done, and we are nowhere close to where we need to be, but at least we’re starting to head in the right direction,” Guzikowski said.
Zoe Madsen, ‘22, who began a fundraiser within her sorority Kappa Delta, was prompted to help in the wake of Floyd’s murder. The chapter spread awareness over social media and raised money to donate to the bailout funds for Minneapolis protesters.
Madsen said her chapter’s platform offered a great opportunity for widespread fundraising — something the sorority does year round with their own philanthropic events.
“I was really excited that we as a chapter unanimously agreed that we should be using our platform for this because I think members of Greek life, particularly Panhel and IFC, represent a huge portion of our predominantly white institution,” Madsen said
Madsen said, despite there being a multitude of worthy organizations to donate to in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, she felt that the bailout funds were a way to have a direct impact.
“I think it was important at the time we started the fundraiser to donate to the people who were on the grounds in Minneapolis protesting,” Madsen said. “I think that was a good use of our resources and a direct way to support current events.”
While Madsen said she is proud of the support both within her chapter and within the Lehigh community, there is more work to be done to ensure impact is felt.
“I think this has been an important moment for us in Greek life to stop and reflect on the role we play on our campus,” Madsen said. “I think that our houses should be having active discussions on what changes we can make in our own social circles and how we can support black students on our campus.”
Madsen said the fundraiser was an important start, but that action should not stop there.
“I think that was a good starting point,” Madsen said. “I don’t speak for everybody, but I think that all of our Panhel chapters should take the time to self evaluate and practice what we preach. If our chapters release statements about being inclusive and promoting diversity, I think we all need to walk the walk and figure out how we can actually do that.”