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Everything You Need to Know About the Students’ Demands Ahead of #StudentBlackOut National Day of Action

Rally at Emory University. AP.
Rally at Emory University. AP.

Over the past few months, dozens of college campuses from across the country have protested racial discrimination and inequality that is forcing higher education to address their concerns and make substantive changes.

After a series of racist incidences that went unaddressed by university administration, students at the University of Missouri rose up in protest. After the driver of President, Tim Wolfe, hit a protester during a shutdown of the school’s homecoming, members of #ConcernedStudent1950 called for his resignation. A graduate student, Jonathan Butler, began a hunger strike that gained support from the campus community. Members of the football team refused to practice or play a game as long as Butler was on strike. Wolfe resigned shortly after.

University of Missouri Demands
By #ConcernedStudent1950:

1. We demand that University of Missouri System President, Tim Wolfe, writes a hand-written apology to Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demonstrators and holds a press conference in the Mizzou Student Center reading the letter. In the letter and at the press conference, Tim Wolfe must acknowledge his white privilege, recognize that systems of oppression exits, and provide a verbal commitment to fulfilling Concerned Student 1-9-5-0 demands. We want Tim Wolfe to admits his gross negligence, allowing his driver to hit one of the demonstrators, consenting to the physical violence of bystanders, and lastly refusing to intervene when Columbia Police Department used excessive force with demonstrators.

2. We demand the immediate removal of Tim Wolfe as UM system president. After his removal, a new amendment to thd UM system policies must be established to have all future UM system president and Chancellor positions be selected by a collective of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds.

3. We demand that the University of Missouri meets the Legion of Black Collegians’ demands that were presented in the 1969 for the betterment of the black community.

4. We demand that the University of Missouri creates and enforces comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum throughout all campus departments and units, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff and administration. This curriculum must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff and faculty of color.

5. We demand that by the academic year 2017-18, the University of Missouri increases the percentage of black faculty and staff members campus-wide by 10 percent.

6. We demand that the University of Missouri composes a strategic 10-year plan on May, 1 2016 that will increase retention rates for marginalized students, sustain diversity curriculum and training, and promote a more safe and inclusive campus.

7. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding and resources for the University of Missouri Counseling Center for the purpose of hiring additional mental health professionals, particularly those of color, boosting mental health outreach and programming across campus, increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility of the counseling center, and reducing lengthy wait times for prospective clients.

8. We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding, resources and personnel for the social justice centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color, boosting outreach and programming across campus and increasing campus-wide awareness and visibility.

The recent protests at Yale University were sparked after administrators sent a guidance letter ahead of Halloween turging students to avoid costumes that feature blackface, turbans and mock Native American headdresses. Lecturer Erika Christakis responded to the email saying: “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious … a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” The email angered students, many who already felt the administration was insensitive to racial issues on campus.

Yale University Demands
1) An ethnic studies distributional requirement for all Yale undergraduates and the immediate promotion of the Ethnicity, Race & Migration program to departmental status

a. The promotion of Native American Studies, Chicanx & Latinx Studies, Asian American Studies, and African Studies to program status under the ER&M department.

b. Curricula for classes that satisfy the ethnic studies distributional requirement must be designed by Yale faculty in the aforementioned areas of study

2) Mental health professionals that are permanently established in each of the four cultural centers with discretionary funds

a. More mental health professionals of color in Yale Mental Health.

3) An increase of two million dollars to the current annual operational budget for each cultural center.

a. Five full-time staff members in each of the cultural centers

b. Additional emergency and miscellaneous funds from the provost’s office to support the needs of first-generation, low-income, undocumented, and international students

4) Rename Calhoun College. Name it and the two new residential colleges after people of color.

a. Abolish the title “master”

b. Build a monument designed by a Native artist on Cross Campus acknowledging that Yale University was founded on stolen indigenous land.

5) Immediate removal of Nicholas and Erika Christakis from the positions of Master and Associate Master of Silliman College

a. The development of racial competence and respect training and accountability systems for all Yale affiliates

b. The inclusion of a question about the racial climate of the classrooms of both teaching fellows and professors in semester evaluations.

c. Bias reporting system on racial discrimination and an annual report that will be released to the Yale community.

6) The allocation of resources to support the physical well-being of international, first-generation, low-income, and undocumented students, in these ways, at these times:

a. Stipends for food and access to residential college kitchens during breaks

b. Dental and optometry services implemented as part of the Basic Yale Health plan

c. Eight financial aid consultants who are trained to deal specifically with financial aid application processes of international and undocumented students

Members of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority at the University of California, Los Angeles, held a “Kanye Western” party in October in which students, dressed as either Kanye West, in baggy clothes, or as Kim Kardashian, with padded bottoms. Students protested, demanding a response from administration and an apology from the Greek organizations. They chanted “#BlackBruinsMatter” and displayed signs stating, “Our culture is not a costume.”

UCLA Demands
By Afrikan Students Union:

1. Annual funding for Black student Programming on and off campus. The Afrikan Student Union is one of the largest student organizations, yet, there is no operating budget, and we have to beg the university for every dollar we receive. An annual budget of what it costs to run an effective Black community will be presented to UCLA administration.

2. A UCLA Anti-discrimination policy. It is a shame that discriminatory and racist incidents continue to happen on campus, and those responsible do not face any repercussions. An anti-discrimination policy would outline exactly what discriminatory behavior looks like, and what the consequences are when such a policy is violated. Professor Sander broke no policy, the Kanye Western party broke no policy. This is unacceptable.

3. A $30 million dollar endowment to help support Black students financially, akin to the initiative that is being implemented at UC Berkeley. Many Black students must work 2-3 jobs in order to pay for the continuing rising costs of education. Funding is one of the reasons why many Black students do not apply to UCLA, and also a hindrance to many that are accepted. For a University that is as “diverse” as UCLA, something must be done to make sure that Black students are financially secure.

4. A commitment to the hiring of more Black faculty across the different academic disciplines. With a rise in Black faculty members, the university will see a rise in Black graduate students. Many Black graduate and undergraduate students have experienced racist sentiments from their respective departments. It will also undoubtedly lead to an increased retention rate for Black students, and other students of color.

5. Rebranding the Afrikan Diaspora Floor with Residential Life. Black students lack spaces where they feel safe and comfortable. The Afrikan Diaspora floor is a way for us to connect more to other Black students, the Afrikan Student Union, and the Afro-Am department. The floor should be branded as a safe space for all Black students.

6. The creation and support of a UCLA Afro-house. Many Black students cannot afford to live in westwood with the high prices of rent. An Afro-house would provide a cheaper alternative housing solution for Black students, that would also serve as a safe space for Black Bruins to congregate and learn from each other.

7. Create a student advisory board for the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Equity Diversity and Inclusion. This will make sure students are able to hold UCLA administration accountable, and also work with administration in their charge to improve campus climate.

8. Provide additional funding for the hiring of an additional Black admission officer to increase the amount of Black students applying and being accepted to UCLA. The University should also provide additional funding to the access programs on campus targeting Black students and students of color. These programs include SHAPE (Students Heightening Academic Performance through Education), VIPs, and EAOP.

9. Create a UCLA community schools in a predominately Black Area of Los Angeles. Black Students are one of the smallest populations at UCLA, and the university should be doing all it can to reach out to them. Currently community schools are 80% Latino and 14% Asian. UCLA should be focusing on its smallest populations of Black and American Indian students.

10. Creation of a Black Student Leadership Task Force, comprised of Black alumni, students, Faculty, and Staff. Black student leaders are some of the hardest working people on campus, and lack institutionalized support from other members of the campus community would make Black student leaders have higher retention rate, and more training.

During a town hall meeting, #KUConvo, students aired their grievances to the administration about the lack of concern for students of color. A group called “Rock Chalk Invisible Hawks” presented a list of demands, which includes the hiring of a director of the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs.

University of Kansas Demands
By Rock Chalk Invisible Hawks:

1. Director of OMA hired by December (Former Office of Multicultural Affairs director Blane Harding left KU in May. Precious Porras has been interim director since.)

2. Mandatory, intense “inclusion and belonging” training for all levels of students, staff, faculty, and administration

3. Issue Campus Climate Survey by February 2016 (The comprehensive survey aims to assess KU’s climate in the following areas: respect and collegiality; communication, collaboration and cooperation; overall work and academic environment; and diversity, equity and inclusion, according to KU’s Office of Diversity and Equity. KU has contracted with Rankin & Associates Consulting to conduct the survey, and it’s currently scheduled to be sent out in fall 2016.)

4. Train and rehire IOA staff and implement accountability measures (KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access is charged with investigating reports of discrimination on campus — including sexual harassment and sexual violence — and recommending disciplinary action. Director Jane McQueeny resigned in October, and KU currently is searching for a replacement. The office still has four employees. )

5. Increase consistent hiring of diverse faculty and staff (It’s not labeled as a diversity hiring program, but KU’s “Hiring for Excellence” initiative aims to get more candidates of color on campus and, ultimately, hired. I wrote about the effort earlier this year, and administrators said increasing faculty diversity is a challenging goal but credited the initiative with making some progress so far.)

6. Increase the percentage of underrepresented domestic and undocumented students (KU’s overall enrollment went up this fall. Within the new freshman class, the number of Hispanic students went up 10 percent, the number of multiracial students stayed about the same, and the number of black freshmen went down 27 percent. The number of black students in the freshman class is still higher than it was several years ago. KU’s most recent retention and graduation report is available on the Office of Institutional Research and Planning website.)

7. Immediate amendments to Senate election code (Some students have complained that a Student Senate decision to raise the spending cap for elections prevents minority students from running for office.)

8. Increase aid and assistance to active military and veterans (The number of vets at KU is going up. I just reported some numbers this week, along with plans to build a new Student Veterans Center inside Summerfield Hall once the business school moves out.)

9. Establish team of multicultural counselors to specifically address severe mental illnesses and the needs of students of color by Fall 2016

10. Ban concealed weapons from campus (Under Kansas law, concealed weapons must be allowed on public university campuses beginning in July 2017. The Kansas Board of Regents currently is seeking input from KU and other universities to develop a policy covering how the new law will be implemented.)

11. Remove all professors who assault, sexually harass, or engage in abusive relationships with students. Apply this policy retroactively as well, specifically to Dr. [name redacted by the Journal-World]. Immediate expulsion of those that commit sexual assault. (Several years ago a female student accused the professor listed by name of sexually harassing her, and she was unhappy with how KU handled her complaint. KU does not release information about individual investigations.)

12. Open investigation in Grant, Starling et al. case as hate crime beginning with IOA (KU Black Student Union president Kynnedi Grant said during Wednesday’s forum that she and several black friends were physically assaulted and called a racial slur at an off-campus house party on Halloween. A police report was not filed. It’s unclear if the women filed a report with KU IOA, though Grant posted an account of the event on her Facebook page earlier this week. After the forum, Grant declined to answer my questions about the incident.)

13. Reopen investigation into the murder of Rick “Tiger” Dowdell (Dowdell, a 19-year-old black Lawrence resident, was fatally shot during a gun battle with police near Ninth and Rhode Island streets in July 1970, a summer filled with race-fueled violence at KU and throughout the community. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation determined that Dowdell had exchanged fire with a Lawrence police officer and that a bullet from the officer’s gun killed Dowdell, according to previous Journal-World reports. A coroner’s inquest found that Dowdell’s death was justified. KU does not have jurisdiction over homicide investigations.)

14. Establish Multicultural Student Government independent of current University of Kansas Student Senate

15. Thorough plan of action from Administration by January 19, 2016

Over 20 schools have released demands, including Princeton, Morehouse, Emory and Ithaca. More schools are expected to release demands during and after the #StudentBlackout, set for Wednesday, Nov. 18.

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