Hundreds of students have been protesting about racial inequality present on campus, and today — known as the National Day of Action — a list of demands written by students of color went live on the website IsThisWhy.com:
President Michael Roth, past presidents, and the bureaucracy of this institution have actively neglected to address issues that pertain to students of color and empower them with the same level of resources, consideration, and inclusion historically available to white students. Thus, we present the following demands:
WE DEMAND EQUITY & INCLUSION
We, members of the student of color community (SOC), demand to be holistically included as part of Wesleyan University’s student body, to have our demands heard on campus, and to be recognized and respected as individuals, not simply as numbers to fill the institution’s diversity quota.
STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTABILITY
We demand a written statement addressed to the Wesleyan Community, within 48 hours, from the President of Wesleyan University, Michael Roth, and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion/Title IX Officer, Antonio Farias, to commit to these demands by the specified deadlines via an action plan that works towards a more equitable and inclusive campus environment. This statement should highlight the administration’s inaction and lack of dedication to adequately support students of color and acknowledge the ways that the senior administrators have failed the SOC community, including but not limited to:
Perpetuating the vilification of students of color and their voices
Failing to reach out to the student of color community (Black and Brown students) when campus controversies that directly affect us occur:
Failing to reach out to the student of color community regarding the Argus’ article controversy
Perpetuating the devaluation of Black and Brown lives by failing to address the Wesleyan community and express sympathy and compassion when international tragedies occur outside of Europe.
January 2015, Michael Roth, sent personal emails to French students, expressing condolences, in regards to the Charlie Hebdo shooting
April 2015, No campus update or email of condolence was sent in response to Kenyan tragedy at Garissa University
November 2015, No message of condolence was sent in response to attacks in Beirut, Lebanon
November 2015, Michael Roth, sent a campus update expressing solace and confirming all students in Paris study abroad program are safe in regards to the attacks in Paris
For transparency, we also demand the creation of a website similar to the one implemented at the University of Missouri (https://transparency.missouri.edu/) for the administration to provide updates on the progress of these initiatives and demands.
HIRING OF AN EQUITY ADVOCATE
The Equity advocate will work under the Office of Student Affairs to engage with students regarding equity within the confines of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, religion, culture, gender-identity, and physical or mental impairment. This individual’s job description includes, but is not limited to:
Organizing co-curricular, intentional dialogue between students, faculty, staff, and administration regarding systemic injustices that students with marginalized identities face
Organizing workshops and programs to educate the larger community about privilege and identity
Providing daily office hours open to all students
Hiring student intern(s) working with them for accountability
Hosting mandatory social justice workshops for administration, staff, faculty, and Public Safety officers in order to enrich their understanding of how to appropriately interact with students from marginalized backgrounds
Working as a resource for students to discuss and/or report their experiences of discrimination, harassment, or exclusion from administration, staff, faculty, or Public Safety officers on the grounds of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, religion, culture, gender-identity, and physical or mental impairment
The hiring of this equity advocate should involve a board primarily composed of underrepresented students, with full transparency and disclosure throughout the hiring process.
Within 48 hours: President’s Office commits to hiring the equity advocate to start in Fall, 2016.
ESTABLISHMENT OF A MULTICULTURAL CENTER & A DIRECTOR OF MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS
The Multicultural Center will exist as a non-residential space to garner community and support amongst students of color. This space would support all students who possess an interest in social programming, advocacy, education, and community engagement to expand the social awareness of current issues that affect historically marginalized students at Wesleyan. In addition, the center will provide administrative funding for multicultural programs, activities, and events proposed by students and approved by the Director.
The offices of the Director of Multicultural Affairs and the Equity Advocate will be located in this center. The Center for African-American Studies (CAAS) and the University Organizing Center (UOC), though essential, are not substitutes for a Multicultural Center. The UOC exists as a student run space and CAAS is specific to African American Studies and members of the African Diaspora. The multicultural center must be provided with institutional support and additional financial resources. Furthermore, it would be the location of an archive specifically for student activism around SOC – related issues and empowerment.
By January 20th, 2016: President’s office presents plan for the center including location, funding, and timeline for establishment of the multicultural center.
By May 14th, 2016: University updates on the progress of the center, what work will be done during the summer, and plans for the next full academic year
Fall 2018: Establishment of the Multicultural Center
TRACKING OF FACULTY & STAFF BIAS & MICROAGGRESSIONS
By November 30th, 2015: Report on how student input will be integrated into the formation of an anonymous student reporting system for cases of bias, including microaggressions, perpetrated by faculty and staff.
By Spring, 2016: Revision of end of semester professor evaluations to include a section dedicated for reporting classroom biases, including microaggressions, perpetrated by instructors.
Please visit IsThisWhy.com for more information. You can also share the list of demands on Twitter by clicking here and on Facebook by clicking here. If you have any tips or suggestions for how Wesleying can best support this cause, feel free to email us at staff[at]wesleying[dot]org.