UO to implement new policies in response to Black Student Task Force demands

In November, the Black Student Task Force sent a list of 12 demands asking the University of Oregon administration to combat various racial issues on campus. Today, UO President Michael Schill and Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh published a letter to the campus community addressing six of the recommendations that the the university will implement in response to the list.

“We are dedicated to doing all we can to foster a campus climate that embraces diversity, encourages equity and values inclusion,” the letter said. “In particular, we recognize that we can and must do more as an institution to meet the needs of Black students. We cannot and will not shy away from this conversation, and today we are pleased to share some of the progress we’ve made to address this important issue.”

Some of the demands from November’s list, including changing KKK-related names of campus buildings, were not addressed in today’s letter. But Alex-Assensoh said the campus community should expect another update on the demands by the end of the academic term.

“As the president has said from the beginning, he intended to ensure that the university investigate all of the 12 issues that were brought up by the Black Student Task Force, and so he also mentioned at that time that each of those projects would require different amounts of time and different amounts of resources and commitment,” Alex-Assensoh said.

Another one of the demands that she said will require more time is hiring more faculty of color, which first requires hiring deans who play a large role in recruiting faculty.

There are both short-term and long-term benefits to adhering to this list of demands, Alex-Assensoh said..

“In the short term, we to see the benefit of actually opening up access to our students and providing a richer experience where feel like they belong to a community of learners who are respectful,” she said. “In the long term, we really have the benefit of actually enhancing the global stature of this whole university.”

The Black Student Task Force did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Tuesday evening.

Here are the newly implemented recommendations:

African American Opportunities Program—In fall 2016, the university’s enrollment management team will expand efforts to recruit African American students. This includes hiring additional staff members who are experienced in working with the African American Community.

Fraternity and Sorority Life— In fall 2016, six historically Black fraternity and sorority organizations will become part of the UO Greek life. These include:

  • Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority
  • Delta Sigma Theta sorority
  • Omega Psi Phi fraternity
  • Phi Beta Sigma fraternity
  • Zeta Phi Beta sorority

Academic Residential Community—The Umoja Pan-African Scholars Academic Residential Community will be launched in fall 2016. It will accommodate 25 students and be housed in the Living-Learning Center.

Student Advisory Boards—Beginning in fall 2016, an African American advisory group — including faculty, staff and students — will be added to the existing multicultural Student Leadership Team in the Division of Equity and Inclusion.

Speaker Series, Seminars, and Workshops—The African American Presidential Lecture Series will aim to bring a range of African American authors, scientists, innovators, world leaders, game-changing policymakers, authors and artists to campus to share concepts, information and perspectives for the intellectual enrichment and development of the UO community. Next year’s speakers include Ta-Nehisi Coates — author of Between the World and Me — and Kelly Mack — vice president for undergraduate STEM education at the American Association of College and Universities. These events are being scheduled and more details will be provided as soon as they become available, the letter said.

Diversity Data—Beginning immediately, the university will publish campus diversity data that includes a link to published safety data from the Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Published data will be available here.
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh says that all of the demands are being investigated, but each demand has different needs.


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Lauren Garetto

Lauren Garetto