In 1965, black students protested in front of Strong Hall, the building where administration decisions are made, wanting to see change in the environment at the University of Kansas.
Those students were advocating for themselves to see more black faculty and staff, and for the administration to address racism on campus.
Fast forward 50 years — in 2015, the University of Kansas is still fighting the same battle.
The recent events at the University of Missouri are an indication that marginalized, unheard communities are getting upset with their administration because they are not listening to them. It is unethical and problematic that racist events happen consecutively on Mizzou’s campus and for their administration not to address the situation properly and effectively.
The president and chancellor should have resigned because they were not doing enough to accommodate black students at MU. Allowing racist events to happen and to not address it shows that you do not care — because if you cared, you would have taken action.
The accommodation is something marginalized communities have had to do for so long at the University of Kansas, especially black students. We have had to accommodate racism and ignorance to make our white peers feel good about themselves. We have to accommodate being second-class students at a university we all pay money to attend, and — the worst — black students have to accommodate the administration and faculty not advocating for black students in the classroom and the residence halls.
It was not until 1972 that the University created the Office of Minority Affairs, which is now known as the Office of Multicultural Affairs, after black students demanded change.
The OMA is the only place on campus where I feel comfortable to tell my story and be myself. The staff members at the OMA are the only ones who have impacted my life and have helped me grown as a person at the University. When I have had struggles, the OMA was there to help me get through my trials and function in the systematic oppression society at KU. Most importantly, I was able to understand what it means to be culturally competent.
As a graduating senior who is preparing to leave KU, I want to the University of Kansas to do more to protect marginalized students. I want the University to make all students to take mandatory cultural competence online workshops. I need departments to make faculty and staff participate in diversity and cultural awareness training.
When students of color report incidents of racism they have suffered, it needs to be addressed effectively, and the people who are committing the offenses need to be held accountable for their actions.
Most importantly, I need the administration to listen and receive the personal stories being told by marginalized communities.