Long list of Demands also includes severing ties with Pittsburgh Police Dept: “Each day we find ourselves overcompensating to make up for the University’s failures at combating racism on campus, in the classroom, and amongst students.”
Some student activists at various schools are recognizing current trends and are taking advantage of the situation. At the University of Pittsburgh, a coalition of black student activists has put together a list of demands.
The demands range from curriculum to hiring and firing policies.
Chrissy Clark of the Washington Free Beacon notes the impact on free speech:
Students Demand Pitt Eliminate Free Speech Protections
Activists are demanding that the University of Pittsburgh fire any employee deemed racist or discriminatory by students, a move that First Amendment advocates say amounts to the elimination of academic freedom.
Black Pitt, a coalition of black student groups, is demanding that the university fire any employee dubbed “racist” by a black-only student council and end employee speech immunity, a core principle of academic freedom and First Amendment protections for academics at public universities.
“Faculty and staff with one incident or complaint of racial bias, excessive force, or unlawful arrest/detainment should be terminated and banned from the University campus immediately if found at fault,” the letter reads. “During the time of the investigation, the faculty/staff should be disclosed by name and banned from the University campus until its completion.”
There is much more to this, however.
Their letter begins:
To Whom It May Concern,
The following document consists of an action plan curated by the undergraduate, Black student leaders of the University of Pittsburgh. As members of the Pitt community, we are exhausted mentally, physically, as well as emotionally. Each day we find ourselves overcompensating to make up for the University’s failures at combating racism on campus, in the classroom, and amongst students. In light of recent events, we find ourselves at a pivotal point in time. A point in which change must occur in order for the University to progress forward. A point at which the University must take a stance in solidarity alongside its Black students. A point in which the University must reflect and examine its own racist foundation as well as the impacts of systemic racism on business matters and everyday duties at the University of Pittsburgh.
The letter makes demands on the curriculum:
Transform the mission of the focus of our academic curriculum to be inclusive and comprehensive regarding the plight and triumphs of Black people. The first step in appreciating the Black experience, whether as members of the community, allies, or bystanders, is educating one another. Changes in current curriculums, and introducing new courses to the University will allow opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to fully understand the history of Black people. Beyond this, members of the University will be officially informed of how to recognize and call out prejudice, racism, bigotry, etc., in their own thoughts and actions in order to prevent a situation where they are consciously or unconsciously acting on it.
Establish both a Masters and PhD Program in Black Studies/Africana Studies. The National Council of Black Studies states that as of 2020, 20 colleges offer a master program for Black Studies and 19 colleges offer a doctoral program for Black Studies.
Mandatory race-based training for faculty:
All faculty and staff must undergo three (3) training sessions a year (before the start of each new academic session) that cover topics on racial biases, microaggressions, micro-assaults, and equity. Faculty and staff with implicit biases can directly impact opportunities for students of color. All faculty and staff need to be trained on how to properly interact with students from different backgrounds. In order to teach for the semester faculty would need to pass these trainings and receive a certificate of completion.
They want to influence employment policy:
Terminate the employment of racist and/or discriminatory employees on campus. Students should be allowed to submit formal complaints when they experience racial bias by University of Pittsburgh faculty and staff. These complaints should be investigated by the People’s Voice committee. Additionally, the OMET survey should contain questions pertaining to the professor’s ability to interact with students from different backgrounds and strength in creating an inclusive learning environment.
Segregated areas for black students only:
Create a space, aside from the BAS office in the William Pitt Union, on campus solely for Black students to congregate. The Black student body would prefer a location in Posvar to keep us connected to the Africana and African Studies Department.
They want the school to sever ties to the Pittsburgh Police Department:
Sever ties with Pittsburgh City Police Department (for outside events not tied to the University) to actively ensure the protection of Black faculty and students. The University of Pittsburgh Police Department should sever ties with the City of Pittsburgh Police Department for all on campus events and activities which includes terminating any and all contracts with current or former City of Pittsburgh police officers for sporting events, concerts, housing security, and emergency management. Please note that we have not suggested any racial bias training or remediation curriculum because reforming racists has not proven effective. It is not our goal to invest time and resources in changing the minds of racists who have chosen to remain ignorant and a danger to our campus, but to expel them from our community.
It’s funny, their letter began with them saying they are exhausted. So am I, after reading it.
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