The Black Student Union 7 / 28/ 2020
An Open Letter in Regards to Clark University’s Disregard of Black Lives
We, the Black Students of Clark University, share with the entire Clark community the core needs we require as a collective to feel human on our campus. Below, you will find our fellow Black students’ core needs related to the ultimate vision of the demands published on June 4th, 2020. The following needs are all-encompassing based on our experiences at Clark University. Our demands addressed our trauma with armed officers, the active presence of racist community members, and the urgent need to support the mental health of Black students. The following needs include the prior, but also address the lack of Black faculty, the lack of retention of our Black staff, and the dismantling of the curriculum based on white supremacy. If Clark University's motto is to "Challenge Convention, Change our World," the movement towards Black Liberation should not be impeded. While the needs outlined need no introduction, we have given Clark University the blueprint to liberate their Black community members. The decisions Clark administration makes from this day forward will demonstrate whether the institution sees us as humans or mere statistics to boost their reputation as an elusive, diverse, and equitable institution. Whether Clark realizes this or not, our vision is Black Liberation; our vision is the Black Lives Matter Movement, our vision is Civil Rights. We will not be convinced that our needs are radical or unattainable by any means. To fulfill small parts of our demands is to perpetuate the oppression against Black people directly. This document pieces together the collective vision of Black students.
For Black students to feel valued as students, we need Clark University to decolonize the curriculum and to include Black and POC literature across all subjects. For Black students to feel valued within the classroom, we need Clark University to be more intentional who is allowed to teach certain courses. You simply cannot have a non-Black faculty teach Black history, because it creates an uncomfortable environment for Black students. A particular yet appropriate example would be that of Africana Studies. It is completely alienating to take a course in Africana Studies taught by a white professor, and you are the “only Black student” in the class. Faculty who do not share the identity and experience of Black students do not have the necessary emotional intelligence or sensitivity level to lead courses on the Black or African experience. Many Black students have expressed how professors and students tend to be rather excited when learning about trauma-inducing topics such as slavery.
As a Black student, being in such a class and seeing how learning about horrific crimes done to the Black community is met with excitement and little to no regard for Black students, is simply unacceptable. Black students deserve the right to reach their academic and professional achievements to their fullest capacity beyond the classroom. Black students need more robust career services that ensure that we are connected to promising opportunities beyond Clark. Furthermore, there needs to be a more reliable network of Black alumni and Black undergraduate and graduate students to build stronger relationships and broaden our chances to succeed.
The Black Student Union 7 / 28/ 2020
As Black students, we need the Financial Aid Office to address the demands made by the Black Student Union members in 1969 and provide transparency on the access to the Black Scholarship Fund demanded. The Black Scholarship Fund was established to support us. Therefore we deserve better access to its funds. Furthermore, there is a need for more substantial support services for the Black International population during the orientation process. As an international student coming to the U.S, it can be challenging to adjust to a new and foreign environment while being away from home. As a Black international student, it can be extremely emotionally overwhelming to have to navigate through unknown and deeply ingrained forms of racism that are embedded in this country.
In addition to this, the Black students on campus have expressed the need for more Black mental health practitioners. Not just in this moment of traumatic resistance against our uprising, but in the longitudinal battle we face against white supremacy in this country. Similarly, in the recruitment of Clark Athletics staff, there is a need to hire more Black coaches and department staff. In departments spanning from admissions to student life and programming to the alumni network, there is a need for broader recruitment and retention of Black staff. To sum up, there is a need for more representation in all areas of Clark.
Furthermore, Black students at Clark University need to feel liberated within their individual lives at this institution. Black students on campus reserve the right to feel safe and welcome. Clark University must fulfill this need by: developing a multicultural housing option with an exclusive Black floor, provide a Black affinity space, hire and retain Black staff throughout all departments and admit domestic and international Black students. As well as, give special consideration to African American students who are direct descendants of enslaved people in the United States.
We will not tire of saying that for Black students to be liberated on Clark University’s campus, they must first feel safe. Black students need Clark University to disarm their campus police officers. We need new forms of security on our campus that are not dependent on officers carrying semi-automatic weapons. Lastly, we need a new office that centers on anti-racism and pro-Black practices. Its role will be to oversee and eradicate racism and oppression within every department of this institution.
We need the Black Student Union’s original demands of 1969 to be met. We need the Black Student Union’s demands of 2020 to be met. We need Black liberation within this institution for as long as Clark University has Black students, Black alumni, Black staff, and Black faculty.
The Black Students of Clark University