“Despite alleged efforts by administration to enhance diversity, the admissions office continues to fail to ensure a student body with adequate minority representation.”
Why should George Washington University change its name? Yale hasn’t changed its name and Elihu Yale was actively involved in the slave trade.
Caleb Francois is a senior at GWU. He wrote this op-ed for the Washington Post:
George Washington University needs a new name
Last year, George Washington University’s Cloyd Heck Marvin Center — named for a segregationist — was renamed the University Student Center in response to student calls for a name change. The name change streamlined with calls for racial justice in a modern era in which students across the country are demanding change. As our nation’s history of slavery, Jim Crow, red lining and other discriminatory policies toward African Americans has never been fully addressed or atoned for, these pleas for racial justice are a reflection of a shifting paradigm in American politics in which compromise and intolerance are no longer an option. However, the renaming of the University Student Center falls short in addressing the main issues of systemic racism and inequality still present on campus.
Racism has always been a problem at GW. At the university’s founding in 1821, enrollment was restricted to White men. In 1954, then-university president Marvin employed numerous efforts to preserve segregation, arguing for a “homogenous” group of White students. In 1987, Black students organized to demand more visibility in a predominantly Black city where Black students were outnumbered by huge majorities. Today, with Black enrollment at about 10 percent, Black students on campus continue to struggle for community. Despite alleged efforts by administration to enhance diversity, the admissions office continues to fail to ensure a student body with adequate minority representation.
Black professorship also remains low, especially in the university’s International Affairs program. Limited Black professors teaching African and African American courses and the continued neglect of Black academia and Black professorship create a campus culture in which European studies and White perspectives are favored over Black perspectives. No African languages are taught at the university, and calls for reforms are often ignored.
These problems are rooted in systemic racism, institutional inequality and white supremacy.
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