Letter to the Editor: MU administration must progress and change in order to evoke inclusion, diversity and equity.
MU administration must enact structural changes in order to address systemic racism in the institution, writes the six secret honorary societies.
Apr. 30, 2021
Letters to the editor are submitted from outside The Maneater and do not represent the view of the newspaper, editorial board or staff.
Racism has been present on MU’s campus since its establishment in 1839. In the past, Black students have continuously been denied admission, academic resources and rights for too long at this institution. Through marches, movements, resilience and unity, students were able to stand against these acts of discrimination to better serve Black students in their pursuit of academia at MU. These demonstrations helped provide essential resources for our students of color, whether that be more faculty and staff of color, or even social justice programs, spaces and resources.
Though we were told these issues were a part of the past and history, we have seen history repeat itself time and time again. Whether facing blatant racism, microaggressions, lack of resources or threats of consequences, students still continue to stand against oppressive systems in order to make MU a better place than when they found it.
Through the years, we’ve seen changes in the culture of our university. We have witnessed many progressive advancements that have shaped our campus into what it is today. Oftentimes, these progressive changes have been implemented or started by students and staff at MU, rather than the institution itself. Even though progress has been made, it’s essential that we keep the momentum of these movements alive. We want to ensure that advocacy will continue to happen in order to meet the needs of our marginalized communities.
Many voices face the risk of being silenced in this work, and it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity as a community to amplify the voices of those in need. We’ve seen how working together collectively has made an impact on our campus, time and time again. We have witnessed the tireless effort students, faculty and staff have put forth to make systemic change at MU.
Through the various movements that were held on campus, social media and throughout the Columbia community, students have taken the burden of fighting issues that continue to persist on our campus. Even though there are people and systems in place to acknowledge student issues and worries, students often take on the responsibility of resolving these problems themselves due to the administration's priority of the actual institution rather than the community.
We ask the administration: why is it so difficult to understand the worries of students? You speak on the importance of inclusion, diversity and equity, yet students of color take classes in buildings like Middlebush Hall, named after the University president who fought tooth and nail to keep MU segregated. You state that you listen, yet Black students must walk past the Thomas Jefferson Statue and Grave Monument. This is a continuous reminder that Black students are not welcomed or valued, as Thomas Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves in his lifetime.
When hearing the cries for change, you instead allocated thousands of dollars to protect the very monument that brought us anger. You say that you stand with us, yet you are threatening a restructure of the Social Justice Centers where students find their home. The very idea of having our beloved coordinators and staff not having solidified jobs puts fear in our student body.
With no clear plan distributed to students, we fear what this restructure may bring and how it will impact those in need. Students continuously protest and state the problems they face here at this institution, and they are met with consequences, being blocked on social media and constantly looked over.
Administration’s value for inclusion, diversity and equity must be felt by all students. We need to see the actions of support for our marginalized communities. What we need from administration is clear transparency on changes and issues that regard the greater community at MU. We need to see value and care being instilled into the spaces and people that support us on campus. We need the administration to know that haphazard decisions cannot be made at the expense of marginalized students. We need accountability, and we need them to listen.
Students are tired of the constant empty statements and lip service. We must see transformative work from students as well as the individuals who actually hold the power to make change at our university. One of the most powerful things we can use is our voice. In order to continue striving for change, we encourage you to keep working toward change and to keep moving toward progress.
As Secret Societies, we value leadership and service and feel that everyone can play a part in the movement toward long standing progression and change. It is our responsibility as student leaders to continue fighting against systems of oppression on our campus. We understand the responsibility to extend a helping hand to serve the community we’re in. We encourage other members of the community to always do the same. We must continue advocating for those who are overlooked and silenced in our communities, while continuing to fight for faculty and staff who constantly support us.
Although we have progressed, we must continue to disrupt the systems that have been formed against us. To increase our effort in making structural change, we must continue to hold the administration accountable to shape our university into an institution that serves the students first.
Signed, Mystical 7, Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa, QEBH, LSV and Rollins Society
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