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.