Admin, Campus Must Address Black Students’ Demands

Last week, scores of students gathered for a protest in solidarity with black students at Mizzou and Yale. College senior Casidy Campbell read a list of demands, which was given to Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair and was later tailored into a public document. Campbell then led the students to stand and chant in the middle of Clifton Road, blocking traffic during rush hour.

The peaceful protest was clearly an effective form of activism because we are already hearing more conversations about race on this campus. We are glad that several black students on this campus have released this list of actionable and feasible demands.

And, while we at the Wheel have also been discussing race on campus, we have to acknowledge that we are part of the problem. Despite our moderately diverse staff and our support for the movement, we can’t ignore the fact that the Wheel is a historically white publication that hasn’t always been on the right side of history.

That being said, we would like to criticize the campus response to the protest and demands, especially the huge disparity in the demands and the emails in response to the conversations. While the black students have called for a concrete list of changes on campus, the all-campus emails from Nair, Student Government Association (SGA) and College Council (CC) don’t even reference the demands or attempt to discuss possible changes to address racial injustice on campus.

Instead, the emails project a deceivingly liberal tone with Martin Luther King quotes and a declaration of solidarity that wasn’t grounded in any concrete language. Without any substantial call for change on campus, the claims of solidarity feel empty. The time for talking about talking about race is over. When is Emory administration and the student body going to directly respond to the demands?

“We call for the University to understand and then appropriately address the mental stress incurred by Black Students at this institution on a daily basis,” the preamble of the demands states. It goes on to state that the authors expect an administrative action plan by December 4. Otherwise, it says, they will take “appropriate nonviolent actions.”

The conversation here on forward needs to focus on the grievances of the black community on this campus and the steps Emory needs to take to address the demands. The black community has raised their voice and campus needs to listen and act. Now.

The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel‘s editorial board.

4 comments

  1. Avatar
    Chandler Bing 3 years ago

    I am writing in response to the list of demands the black students of Emory have made, that have been floating around on Facebook in the form of a Google Doc. Before I begin my counterargument, I first would like to comment on my anonymity. I am only writing this letter anonymously because I feel as a white male I would be unrightfully targeted as a racist for my comments. This being said, I believe most will find my points to be objective and rationale. Below are some arguments, questions, and commentary for each of the thirteen points that currently exist in the Google Doc.

    1. “Emory University must recognize traumatic events that Black students experience on campus via the campus-wide emails sent to Emory University affiliates with emory.edu email addresses. These events shall be reported to the Bias Incident report. We demand that the administration of Emory University make the broad contexts and situations reported to the bias incident report known to the entire Emory community via campus-wide emails in order to increase awareness to every community within Emory University about racism, sexism, ableism, classism, and other forms of injustice.”

    While I do understand that traumatic events exist and reporting them is an important way to prevent their further occurrence, looking only at the black community is myopic. All traumatic events shall be reported equally and treated equally regardless of race.

    2. “…we demand that the Bias Response Team email a personalized email to the reporter (the person who used the Bias Incident Reporting) within 1-2 days of a Bias Incident Report receipt…”

    I agree with this demand. It is important that the systems be in place be effective in resolving the situations. However, I find it extremely unfair to show any favoritism in which actions take priority.

    3. “we demand for the Emory University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to provide unique and alternative methods of counseling for Black students if they prefer to receive them… these alternative counseling methods include: Black spirituality methods, Black counselors, and counselors of color.”

    Why does any population regardless of size require their own counselors? In order for someone to help you, it is unnecessary for them to be of the same race. By simply hiring more black counselors, students will not necessarily receive better help. It is more important to focus on hiring more qualified counselors, who are more adept at resolving a wide variety of issues.

    4. “We demand that the faculty evaluations that each student is required to complete for each of their professors include at least two open-ended questions such as: “Has this professor made any microaggressions towards you on account of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, and/or other identity?” and “Do you think that this professor fits into the vision of Emory University being a community of care for individuals of all racial, gender, ability, and class identities?”

    While this may be solution to the “systematic racism” at Emory, it will not rightfully correct the issue. As it currently stands these forms are anonymous. It is a lot easier to lie about a professor or faculty member when there is no name on the report. Additionally, hopefully these issues can be addressed earlier in the semester rather than the last day. Addressing the problems earlier can help create a dialogue and hopefully a better understanding between the professor and student.

    5. “Therefore, we demand an institutionalized academic support hub for Black students to have access to and to receive tutoring, specialized study skills, and career mentoring.”

    I find point number five to be one of the most contentious pieces of this letter. This request is going back towards segregation. It is unfair to the rest of the non-black students at Emory who may come from lower socioeconomic statuses, and who may also be underprepared to succeed at Emory. Additionally, as a student who went to a public high school, who did not have any tutors, I find this point personally offensive that black students find that these are the reasons why I was able to succeed in high school and succeed since coming to Emory. In the real world these benefits do not exist.

    6. “As a result, we demand that Black students and students/staff/faculty of color should be consulted when making university-wide diversity initiatives… We demand that the purpose of these initiatives should be to ensure the comfort of the black students population at Emory and to enlighten white students about systematic oppression.”

    It is important that the diverse student population be part of the decision-making process for diversity initiatives. However, please recognize our school is NOT predominately white. According to Emory’s admissions page 37.8% of the population identifies as Caucasian. Yes, this is the largest group but pales in comparison to the 63.7% of the United States population who identifies as non-Hispanic white. Additionally, all students should feel comfortable at Emory regardless of their color. Lastly, please do not refer to “white students” as the only offenders of racism. Imagine if a white student wrote, “…to enlighten all of the black students…” This is an egregious double standard.

    7. “The staff needs to be paid more for the work and time that they spend ensuring that the Black community has what it needs in the areas of administration, food, maintenance and custodial services, etc”

    While Emory is a private institution and for this reason does not have to abide by the Supreme Court ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, it rightfully should if we want to see actual progress. This case banned accepting students strictly based on race at public institutions. By bringing race into situations it makes us less colorblind. I know that this case only applies to public universities with admissions, but it does set a good standard for also selecting leadership for our prestigious university.

    I challenge you to find statistics showing that black staff is underpaid. I can almost guarantee that Emory does not pay based on race, rather the skill and position they hold. This is currently a major issue on the political scene with equal pay for equal work (usually addressing women’s pay), and this idea should also be applied to race. If Emory is not paying black employees or any other employee as much as their counterparts of other races for equal work, then this issue must be rectified.

    Please note that many employees are unionized and their pay is more or less determined by the union not by Emory University.

    8. “We demand job security for Black faculty and administrators when they are earnestly working on behalf of Black students.”

    Simply put: all employees deserve the same amount of job security. All employees should be held accountable for their actions.

    9. “We demand that there is a fair trial with a jury consisting of faculty, staff, and administrators of color, for each Black organization that may be suspended or expelled from campus.”

    All organizations should be policed the same and there are many organizations that also feel that they are underfunded.

    Also jury selection is typically meant to represent the demographic of the society to decrease bias. Would you want an all-white jury for a predominately white fraternity?

    10. “We demand that there be an increase in the amount of black and Latino professors to 10% by the year 2017.”

    Again this brings me back to my point about hiring the best talent. A black or Latino person should be hired because they are better than the next person in line, not because they represent a minority.

    11. “Acknowledging foremost that all kinds of speech are not protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America”

    This is a fundamentally incorrect reading of the First Amendment. People are allowed to say anything, no matter how hurtful they may be as long as they are not considered “fighting words.” However, these words are very hurtful and should be targeted at the source. Restraining people’s speech will not stop the initial thought, which is the root of the problem.

    12. “We demand that there be a student led GED program or opening Emory classes to black workers at Emory (DUC, Cliff, Maintenance).”

    Along with demand number five, I find this demand to be completely unwarranted. Why are only black workers allowed to participate in this program? People should not have additional rights because of race, rather everyone should have the same rights.

    13. “we demand that Emory University follow through on this recommendation and create a General Education Requirement for courses that explore issues significantly affecting people of color.”

    A GER will not resolve this problem. From experience classes do not necessarily make people hone the information and change the way they see things. Often students will just regurgitate information to get the “A”.

    Please note that the bold quotations are merely snippets of the letter of demands.

    From my own observations I find that all races at Emory are near equal, but these demands are creating additional benefits for minorities that would only create further separation. I welcome all responses to my points. I really tried to stay as objective as possible and wrote this to create a many-sided, open and respectful dialogue. While I have not seen any specific acts of racism, this does not mean that they do not exist, but the lack of concrete details regarding these demands delegitimize most of the points made.

    1. Avatar
      Pharaoh XIX 3 years ago

      Please list 10 measures that you, as a European-American male, would take to: 1. Revise Emory’s Eurocentric curriculum until it is truly inclusive and global-minded. 2. Suppress racial micro- and macro aggressions on campus. 3. Educate the Emory community about Emory’s racialized past and structural violence towards people of color in the United States from Reconstruction until 2015 and counting. 4. recruit more faculty of color “Talent” is subjective and even scholarship has a social element. If European-Americans make up the largest part of our faculty and administrative positions, it is quite natural that there will be some biases in hiring and the granting of tenure. Dean Forman says our numbers are “shameful,” so please dismiss the idea of diversity recruitment as reverse-racism. That’s an idea you need to READ away. I’m waiting Anonymous White Male. Also, let’s not debate. List your 10 measures, if you disagree with number 4, you can leave it out.

      1. Avatar
        WarGamer2016 3 years ago

        No.

        1. Like it or not…the US is a WESTERN democracy with its roots in Judaeo Christian culture. Our constitution, laws and social norms derive from Europe. You come here…well…join in. Not interested in Global Minded nor am I interested in multi-cultural ism. The fact is that I think by almost any measure that the culture of the US is superior to almost any other. In terms of our ability to provide for our people, freedom, protections of minorities, respect for the rule of law, we far surpass almost any country you can name. Don’t like it….go to wherever this place is that you think is better. Africa? You seen the mess that continent is in? Asia? You want to be a Chinese citizen? How about Argentina or Brazil? Not great places to be women. How about Saudi Arabia or Russia? Iran maybe? How about Egypt or perhaps Haiti? Mexico is great but…oh…yeah…their culture is derived from those crazy white guys from Spain and the cartels and a lack of rule of law is kinda hard. You want to know how great a country and its culture is…LOOK HOW MANY PEOPLE WANT TO MOVE THERE.

        2, Toughen up! Micro and Macro aggression? Really? Look…the world is packed full with jerks and bastards. That is just the way it is. People like to divide themselves up and pick on the “other”. Being the “other” can be being the fat, ugly girl in HS or the kid with cerebral palsy in 5th grade or the only black kid in school or the only conservative and only white in African American Oral Culture (me,,,BTW…only person in class to get an A…BOY did that set off the black girl sitting next to me). Better to know who the jerks are than to try and stifle them and get blindsided by them in a sneaky way later. Better to be prepared for the real world BEFORE you get there.

        3. YAWN. I have no problem with addressing this history int he context of US History. Makes great sense. But honestly…if you want to look at the greatest victims of racial oppression in the US…look to the native Americans. Did I mention that blacks played a large role in wiping them out after the Civil War? That is where the term “Buffalo Soldier” came from. Heck..that was GENOCIDE and African Americans were right there on the front lines helping. We should also address the number of white people that came to America as slaves. Did you know that the British exported over 100k Irish people to the Americas, the islands and Australia as slaves? They murdered millions more through starvation and for centuries attempted to eliminate Irish culture, making the language, religion, and oral history illegal. We should look at the Chinese that were imported as well and the KKK killing Irish and Italians for being Catholic.

        4. Really….I dont care. Had all kinds of professors and bosses and different races and genders and orientations. As long as they are the BEST available then that is all that matters. But..let me see. Blacks make up 13% of the total US population. Of that population, 27% have undergraduate degrees. That works out to about 3.5% of the US population. Assuming that you are going to look for only those holding a PHD’s then I think we can say that the universe of possible hires is pretty small. Then too…how many of them are going to want to teach college when they can make a bundle more in the private sector?

        Ya know….Really…in the end….maybe you should spend your time in college studying something that is going to do more for you in the real world and leave the study of identity politics to your free time. “Studying” all that stuff is going to do nothing but feed a grudge, provide excuses to fail, and distract from doing things that will actually help you excel in the private sector. Well…that is unless all you want to do is be a college professor that writes books on identity politics that will only be read by people who already think and see the world as you do.

  2. Avatar
    Pharaoh XIX 3 years ago

    European-American students at Emory, please list 10 measures that you would take to: 1. Revise Emory’s Eurocentric curriculum until it is truly inclusive and global-minded. 2. Suppress racial micro- and macro aggressions on campus. 3. Effectively education the Emory community about Emory’s racialized past and structural violence towards people of color in the United States from Reconstruction until 2015 and counting. 4. Recruit more faculty of color.” This should be a community of constructive, not destructive, criticism.

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