“I thought I wanted to stay and make a difference in this town ... now I can’t wait to get outta here.”

“I told my cousin NOT to come to SFA!”

These quotes represent hundreds like them being shared on young people’s social media accounts as videos from the April officer-involved use of force incident continue to circulate.

Why should it matter that young people neither want to stay nor come to Nacogdoches?

While many may see SFA students as “visitors,” for however long they inhabit our city, they are Nacogdoches.

Some of them register just so they can vote in local elections to help our city grow and prosper, others choose to stay and teach our children, some start new businesses to bring in new revenue and tourism, and some of them get misjudged, mistreated, and mislabeled by our city and campus.

Many would like to forget the incident that happened to our “temporary residents,” but if we choose to ignore how we treat our college residents they might choose to stop being our residents.

In the summer months it’s easy to forget how much our SFA students contribute to our community.

Let’s take time to consider what we can all do to make them feel not only welcomed, but safe this coming fall.

Longtime residents, are you attending City Council meetings to hear from wise voices like Courtney Roberts?

Joining organizations like the Nacogdoches Accountability Coalition to hear the everyday experiences of mistreatment that occur with our young, college residents and our born-and-bred residents of color?

Parents, as a family, are we attending events like the Community Culture Expo at McMichael so that we can better understand the talents and celebrate the contributions of our Black neighbors?

Professors/law makers/shop owners, are we examining our store policies, our professional guidelines, our shared spaces to ensure that everyone feels welcomed and safe?

Let’s make sure more students choose to come and stay here. And while we are at it, let’s make sure our Black neighbors, friends, teachers who have long called Nac home feel safe and welcomed, too

Lauren Burrow,

Nacogdoches

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