Forum faces student concerns on racism

Click here to see pictures from The Medasi Dance Theater Performance

More than 100 students, faculty and guests filled the auditorium in BEP Nov. 17 for the 9th annual Dialogue Against Racism, sponsored by Students Together Against Racism.

“This is a coalition of students who want to work together for a common goal,” said Alex Kindell, secretary of STAR. “There are no quick fixes for any of the issue discussed tonight.”

Student organizations such as the NAACP, Women’s Empowerment, Common Ground, African American Studies Club, Black United Students, Student Government Association, Association of African American Charities, Black Men’s Organization and Latino Student Union presented issues facing minorities at Northern Kentucky University and recommendations of how to fix them.

Anesha Harper, president of the NAACP, suggested that the African American Studies minor be a stronger track as well as moving it toward an option for a major. Harper outlined areas for diversity, such as an African Dance course that had been canceled due to lack of participation by students. She also encouraged students to support diversity classes so that they may continue at NKU.

Harper also discussed on behalf of the NAACP issues involving race and gender courses and suggested racial sensitivity courses for professors who teach the subject.

Redrafting the “Way Down East” sculpture was also discussed at the dialogue. SGA President Jennifer Perry with Jesiah Brock, vice president of Student Involvement, said that there should be a collaborative effort between students and administration in planning the future of the sculpture. The piece has been temporarily removed from campus for cleaning during the lake project.

It was recommended that the faculty, staff administrators and students meet to arrange the future relocation of the piece and that students, faculty and administration work together to redraft the plaque representing the piece to include the conflict over removal or relocation of the piece from 1979 to the present.

Stephanie Vines represented Women’s Empowerment at the dialogue. She addressed the fact that NKU does not offer courses to address feminism, Latino or black infant mortality rates, special topics class in psychology for blacks or courses in the criminal justice system which are offered for minorities.

Many presenters voiced concern of wanting to strengthen interdisciplinary courses such as Women’s Studies, African American studies, Social Justice and International Studies.

Courses students enroll in weren’t the only major area of concern at the dialogue. Common Ground representative Mike Volmar brought attention to social attitudes at NKU.

“We need to address attitudes toward homosexuality at NKU,” Volmar said. “There is a lack of course on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual issues.”

He recommended that homosexual issues be introduced into race and gender courses as well as having an ample outlet for information about clubs and organizations that support openly gay students.

Other issues presented at the dialogue include the advancement of American Pluralism, such as giving students serving on a committee voting rights, students being informed on upcoming experimental American Pluralism courses before they are implemented and student inclusion in sub committees on curriculum, renovation, student enrollment and retention issues, according to STAR.

Students also proposed that “Northern Kentucky University and The Northerner (are) responsible for training students to uphold racist conjectures as opposed to challenging them,” according to a statement released by STAR. They recommend that “Northern Kentucky University and The Northerner are accountable to the students it serves. That NKU and that (The) Northerner refrain from supporting the racist criminalization of African Americans…in media; are trained in providing a non-hostile atmosphere that is not conducive to growth and challenge, but to stereotypes of status quos.” They recommended The Northerner attend “January 13 through 15 Norse Commons 115-117 Undoing Racism Workshop.”

Another area concentrated on was to strengthening relationships with the University Police and eliminating tension between the police and black male students.

Eric Smith, who represented BMO, said that black males at NKU “continuously feel as if they are treated differently by the University Police.”

Other recommendations for the University Police would be that the officers attends “Undoing Racism Training” not as a punishment, but as a relationship forming tactic, according to STAR.

While the BMO focused on tensions, Melisa Roman, president of LSU, focused on scholarship money for international students. STAR has made a recommendation of a campus-wide effort to acknowledge international students as well as having student organizations raise $5,650 for scholarships that will be awarded to 10 international students.

Akosua Favors, president of STAR said in a statement, “We are asking that all staff, faculty and administration will address issues directed towards their office or department so no person feels attacked. The university as a whole is accountable for improving the many issues.”