SIU students demand more action on campus diversity

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Carbondale Times

Even after the release this week of a detailed plan for addressing diversity issues on campus, SIU administrators are still on the hot seat when it comes to racism on campus.

At this week’s meeting of the SIU Board of Trustees, members of a group identifying itself as Salukis United — dressed all in black and sitting silently — demanded that SIU leaders take a stronger stance against racism on campus and include students in the process.

Donald Chamberlain III, a graduate student in social work, spoke on behalf of the group at Wednesday’s meeting of the executive committee of the board. He said students are concerned about “a growing climate of racism” on the Carbondale campus.

“We won’t be ignored, and we refuse to allow the administration of this institution to put a Band-Aid over a bullet wound,” Chamberlain said. “This institution has a serious, dangerous problem with institutional racism.”

Issues of racism have been at the forefront this year, beginning earlier in the semester when an SIU student uploaded a viral Internet video detailing some of the experiences of black students on campus.

Last month, an anonymous video on YouTube encouraged the lynching of black students during demonstrations planned for May 2. Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell denounced the video shortly after its release and said the campus leadership was committed to addressing diversity issues on campus.

On Monday, hundreds of students demonstrated on campus on behalf of a wide array of issues, with on-campus racism landing at or near the top of the list. On Tuesday, Colwell issued a letter to students, faculty and staff detailing action the administration plans to take in the wake of recent campus unrest.

Initiatives include the establishment of a campus-wide diversity council, providing more resources related to diversity, promoting cultural awareness in new-student orientation, and taking steps to ensure more diversity in university hiring.