A University of Kansas town hall meeting was interrupted last night by a grassroots student group with a list of 15 demands. Several black students took to the stage with the demands, expressing their feelings of marginalization.
The meeting, which was moderated by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, was set up in response to protests breaking out at Yale University and University of Missouri. There were countless emotional testimonies regarding how black students are treated on campus, and that was before they took to the stage.
Once on stage, student leader Katherine Rainey stated, “Today’s only purpose is to silence and appease students.” The group – which was composed of 12 students – is called Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk, each student holding a sign that read “Black Lives Matter.”
“I just don’t understand why now would be the time (for change). It’s just what’s happening in the national news, “explained frustrated senior Cornelius Baker. The intention behind it wasn’t necessarily to help the students because there have been plenty of other opportunities to do that beforehand.”
Apparently the racial issues at KU are anything but new.
After the meeting, the university immediately stated its support via Twitter:
The demands were also unanimously supported by the Student Senate Student Rights Committee, with committee chair Madeline Dickerson stating, “Right now, we have students who are hurting and fighting for black lives every day – and it’s exhausting. They need ally-ship.”
According to USA Today,
Demands include the hiring of a new director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs by Dec. 15. The previous director quit in May because, as he told the Kansan, he couldn’t “stay around and watch” central leadership fail to do anything “concrete” to support students of color after two years of knowing black six-year graduation rate is only 46%.
They also include setting minority student recruitment goals and issuing a “long-discussed” campus racial climate survey by February 2016.
Something new, however, was the audience’s demand for accountability from individual administrators, echoing how Univ. of Missouri student Jonathan Butler, who had gone on a hunger strike, and the Concerned Student 1950 group called specifically for Wolfe’s resignation.
One student asked administrators to “put some skin in the game” by attaching their names to individual initiatives and saying they’ll step down so someone better can take over if they’re not able to make those improvements happen within three years.
If administrators don’t have a plan in motion by January 19, Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk promised to “raise hell.”