http://naturaliscoolenough.blogspot.com/2014/12/praise-for-hands-up-rally-for-justice.html) namely, the University of Miami. What was outlandish about the student's positive, well-organized, well-attended event was that subsequently, racist, culturally incompetent, inappropriate remarks were made about the students and other participants who attended (I was there so I felt personally impacted) through the medium Yik Yak. See this link for more detail: http://naturaliscoolenough.blogspot.com/2014/12/after-peaceful-blacklivesmatter-rally.html
As a result of the Administration not taking concrete steps to address this matter, other than a letter written by the President, Dr. Donna Shalala, which did not condemn such culturally incompetent behavior, in no uncertain terms, but rather referred to such actions within the context of free speech, the students participated in a sit-in, in their campus library, on the night before their first day of finals. Although President Shalala attended this event, the students await a response to their demands of which excerpts are below. To get a glimpse of this event and President Shalala's comments during it, watch this video: http://vimeo.com/114281731 entitled "Study-In Demonstration at Richter Library."
|Dr. Donna Shalala, President of UM with students at Richter Library Study-In|
Within the context of their demands, their are some clear points which many Universities, at large, must begin to comes to terms with. It is the matter of the need for more Black students, faculty and administrators on predominantly white campuses and why this is important for all students and particularly, Black students. The students mention in their demands that 8% of the student population at the University of Miami are Black. They put this in context as follows per their demand document:
- "This statistic is misleading as a large portion of that 8% are student athletes who, due to their rigorous schedules and staff coercion regarding academic and social tracks, are unable to be fully streamlined into the various aspects of campus life. What efforts are being made to recruit Black students outside of athletics? How can those be increased and/or made more effective"
- "Across all School and Colleges, the vast majority of our Faculty are not representative of the diverse student body they service. In an added detriment, many lack the cultural sensitivity we have come to expect from our institution. We recognize the difficulty in addressing this issue of cultural competency on the part of the faculty, but what is being done to address it from an administrative standpoint? Are courses offered to interested faculty who would like to learn how to better service students with backgrounds that differ from their own? Is there, at minimum, a mandated Cultural Competency course or lecture to set a standard expectation amongst University employees?"
- "Across all School and Colleges, the vast majority of our Faculty are not representative of the diverse student body they service. In an added detriment, many lack the cultural sensitivity we have come to expect from our institution. We recognize the difficulty in addressing this issue of cultural competency on the part of the faculty, but what is being done to address it from an administrative standpoint? Are courses offered to interested faculty who would like to learn how to better service students with backgrounds that differ from their own? Is there, at minimum, a mandated Cultural Competency course or lecture to set a standard expectation amongst University employees?
Although the data is not present in the UM fact book as to the number of Black faculty, at all levels and Administrators (Deans and VP's), a simple, albeit time consuming way to ascertain this information is to simply go to the University website, go to each department's site, click on the Faculty link and get the names of all Faculty and Deans. Most have pictures. Also, the names of all Administrators (V.P.'s) can also be attained per the University website. A quick perusal will provide a very close "Black headcount," at which time the sparse numbers will be evident. Diversity is key, but the question at hand is within the context of diversity at the University of Miami, how many people are Black because #blackeducatorsmatter #blackadministratorsmatter, #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter.
As society, once again, comes to terms with the atrocities being committed against Black people, it is inevitable that other societal ills will surface. Hence it is no surprise that the students had other concerns per their demands including:
--> "While we recognize that to a certain extent this must be accomplished on an individual basis, our question is what is the university doing to facilitate the spread of cultures and ideas amongst students"
--> 'What is the university's policy on hate speech and the use of racial, sexist or homophobic slurs? If one exists, it appears to be neither widely known nor enforced amongst the student body.
These strong, courageous young, Black students, whom I am proud to say, I have taught many of them, have asked for the following:
'We would like the university to create a task force specifically related to the ongoing issues of diversity and inclusion of Black students on campus. We would like to see senior administrators on this task force who can respond directly to our concerns and provide a timetable for these concerns to be addressed. We would like student leaders to be well represented on this task force to speak to the student experience regarding the regression, progression, or stagnancy of various aspects of the college experience at the Predominantly White Institution. We would like to include both New and Tenured faculty who can address our academic concerns of the past and work towards a better future, specifically regarding academic experiences."
They close their letter with hope by stating: in solidarity and excitement #blacklivesmatter
A letter was written by President Shalala today and screen saved and posted on Facebook by students. It's a start but hopefully, the struggle continues with the bigger pictures in mind.
Although, this letter is a possible beginning, one of my former Black students, who is now a medical student, sent this to me, which I think is a fitting way to close this post. It is entitled: An Open Letter to Black Students #BlackLivesMatter. N.I.C.E. joins in on this love letter, in natural, consciousness, agreeing with it in totality. #NaturalIsCoolEnoughKnowsBlackStudentsMatter Definitely a worthy read: http://blackspaceblog.com/2014/12/08/an-open-letter-of-love-to-black-students-blacklivesmatter/