How can IUP address the issue of racism?
Fifty members of the IUP community—faculty, staff, students, and recent graduates—wrestled with this issue during an Anti-Racism town hall Thursday night, organized by IUP’s Student Government Association.
SGA President Alex Fefolt opened the discussion and introduced Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Segar. Segar presented a short video to the group featuring Ibram X. Kendi, author of How To Be An Anti-Racist and others; the video raised
the question of the difference between being anti-racist and saying “I’m not racist.”
Prior to dividing into break-out sessions, participants offered comments on the topics featured in the video, including the need to understand the history and identity that people bring to the table; and the question of “some people are just uncomfortable
speaking up, why can’t that be okay.”
Following 20-minute breakout sessions, facilitators and participants offered comments and suggestions:
An Instagram Live discussion with IUP Police and students, in which students share their experiences;
A first-year course and/or a four-year required course on race and diversity, and infusion of information about anti-racism into every curriculum, “de-colonizing the syllabus;”
IUP needs to do better at recruiting and retaining students, faculty, and staff of color, including counselors;
Work needs to be done to make our home community (outside IUP) to be more welcoming so that students and staff of color want to stay;
Student leaders in student organizations need better leadership training and professional development;
The university needs to better market organizations of students of color so that people who want to find them, can find them; we need to provide this framework early—not waiting until IUP Day. The commenter noted that with all that is going on in
our nation, these organizations and a place where students can belong have to happen;
Segar pledged that there will be trainings, more awareness of the processes and protocols for resolving complaints, and that there will be action.
SGA President Fefolt closed the discussion by reinforcing his major take-away points: Instagram Live with Police; required coursework and curriculum change; and changing the fact that students have voiced that “no one looked like me at orientation.” Fefolt
stressed the need to promote staff who are here working directly with students, and to make students aware of events happening on campus that can help them to connect with one another.
“These are things we will address, working with President Driscoll, Vice President Segar, Social Equity Director Elise Glenn, and others so that students have the safe experience that they deserve at IUP,” Fefolt said.
“Someone said earlier that ‘IUP is like a tale of two cities—the black and brown experience and the white experience,’” Fefolt said. “That needs to change. We need to have one IUP experience, an experience that good for all.”
Additional anti-racism town halls will be offered during the summer months.