By: Chris Zimmer – Columnist, Junior
It has been disappointing to read fellow students in the Opinions Section of Flyer News who have amplified a myth that racism is a prevalent issue on campus. Two writers have used anonymous social media posts and personal experiences to undermine the Catholic identity and Marianist values of our school, and the reputation of our student body.
The Assistant Art Director for the Flyer News, Grace Wolford wrote an article in December titled ‘An Open Letter to White People,’ in which she expressed her disgust with the negative responses to the #BlackLivesMatter protests on campus. She used a handful of anonymous social media posts from Yik Yak to argue racism is a big deal on campus, and that our student body is ignorant of the social injustice African-Americans face.
I too was perplexed that our school, where social justice is emphasized, did not generate a lot of support for the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. However you don’t have to be a UD student, faculty or staff member to post on the UD Yik Yak. You just have to be within the school’s radius. This is not a credible voice of the UD community and shouldn’t have been used to label the entire UD community racist. For all we know African-Americans could have been posting on it to make white students look bad, or it could have been a few teenagers in Oakwood fooling around. At the end of the day, no one will know.
Kwynn Townsend-Riley, a fellow Flyer News columnist, wrote an article in February which demanded “an apology from the Office of Advancement for prioritizing alumni funds over black history month.” She also wrote of how badly she was treated by a fellow student for her hair, and accusing police officers of targeting parties with African-Americans in attendance.
I again was dumbfounded that a UD student would experience such disrespect because, according to The Catholic and Marianist Philosophy of Community Living at UD, “the Marianist vision of community living is founded on the conviction that every person has dignity because all people are made in the likeness of God.” I don’t doubt her account of a conflict with another student, but don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch. I understand the angst towards the administration in regards of coinciding the “I Love UD” campaign and black history month, but they’re doing the best they can with what they have: a predominantly white student body.
According to the UD factbook for the fall semester of 2014, 2.82 percent of undergraduate students, 3.8 percent of doctoral students, 4.5 percent of part-time students and 5.6 percent of graduate students identify themselves as either black or African-American. This is in comparison to the 78 percent of undergraduate, 64 percent of part time, 53 percent of graduate students and 62 percent of doctoral students who identify themselves as white.
Do we really need full student participation and support in protests to show we care about stopping the injustice concerning minorities? No. What we need is political reform on the federal level and within the justice system.
Do we really need bulletin boards to get our black history knowledge? No. What we need is for students to understand and appreciate American history 12 months out of the year.
Do the UD police immediately need to start assuming every black person they see is a student? No. Their job is to protect the community. If anything, we need more officers on patrol and in uniform as our university continues to expand.
Racism on campus is a myth and is not a reality at our school. Our community was ranked 15th in the nation, and second in the state of Ohio in the 2015 Niche ranking of “Universities with the Friendliest Students.” Please don’t hurt our reputation with accusations of racism or discrimination. Every minority student on campus I know has never shared so much such resentment. It has been the exact opposite actually, and I believe their positive experiences at UD reflect our position in the 2015 Niche ranking.