Minority Students at St. John’s U Outline Demands For Change

On Wednesday February 10th, Black and Latino Students at St. John’s University organized a demonstration in DAC (D’Angelo Center) to protest their school’s failure to highlight Black History Month in a notable way.

On Monday February 8th, Xavier Buck — a well-known senior student leader at the University commented under an official St. John’s University Instagram that brought attention to the Lunar New Year whilst ignoring Black History Month altogether. His post read, “ Not that it [the lunar new year] isn’t important, but can we also take note that we are eight days into Black History Month and there hasn’t been a single post.”

Soon after Xavier posted — a white student replied, “Nobody cares.” It is unclear whether this person is currently a student at the school, alumni, or remotely associated with the institution in any way but his comment trigged an avalanche of over 300 responses simply stating “I care.”

In the midst of all of the comments, Xavier said the same person who initially said nobody cares went on to call them “Obama lovers”, something that sounds all too similar to the term “N-word lovers.” The incident on Instagram triggered the demonstration in DAC two days later where Black and Latino student leaders from all of the orgs on campus decided to make a stand and read out a list of demands to the administration.

At the demonstration the student leaders addressed a large crowd of mostly minority students who were in DAC to peacefully protest and disrupt in solidarity. “We believe the Instagram comments represented how several students feel on campus, that Black History Month and even more, our culture does not matter.” Said Anscia Brown, current President of the NAACP chapter at SJU.

Xavier Buck continued on stating that, “This demonstration is more than Instagram comments; it is built on prior movements and problems that have not been solved. This demonstration is for all the microaggressions minority students have faced at this University. It is for all the black students that have been told it is racist to have a black entertainment, or that people like Michael Brown and Sandra Bland deserved to die.” That comment triggered a lot of applause. “This demonstration is because only 33% of Black and Latino students graduate in four years.” “This demonstration is because only 4.1% of full-time faculty at this University are black and only 4.9% of full-time faculty are Latino.” This demonstration is because only 7% of part-time faculty are black, and only 7% of part-time faculty are Latino. This demonstration is because 75% of both full-time and part-time faculty are white.” Anscia Brown said that, “Our message to administration today is that our culture is relevant to this campus outside of the marketing diversity at St. John’s University.” “We need to take immediate steps in fostering Black and Latino culture here at St. John’s. We do not just want a conversation or dialogue about what’s going on — because we already know what’s going on — lets be realistic.” “This is why we came up with a list of demands supported by several other student leaders on campus.”

· 1: “We demand that Black History Month and Latino Heritage Month be Advertised every year on all St. John’s University media outlets, including Instagram, Twitter, and the Official Website, and through an email to the entire student body.”

· 2: “We demand that a guidebook be made on the history and relevance of African American and Latino organizations at St. John’s University that administrators and students can refer to when educating themselves and forming policies. The library archivists and student organizations’ executive boards will create the guidebook.”

· 3: “We demand that a new Administrative Office be established that specifically focuses on increasing the graduation and retention rates of African American and Latino students so that the office of Multicultural Affairs can specifically focus on harvesting multiculturalism and diversity at St. John’s University. The new office will be ran by Graduate Assistants who report to the Associate Provost for Student Success.”

· 4: “We demand a mandated workshop, similar to AlcoholEDU, for all first year students that teaches anti-oppression training, how to handle microaggressions, and where to report microaggressions.”

· 5: “We demand an easily accessible online form on My SJU to be created for students to document their experiences with microaggressions on campus. All submissions will be sent to the office of the Vice President of Student Affairs.”

· 6: “We demand an annual meeting on the state of African American and Latino Students that includes the President, the Provost, the Associate Provost for student success, the Vice President of Student Affairs, the Associate Dean for Student Engagement, the Associate Dean for Student Development, the Executive Director of Student Affairs, the Director of the University Freshman Center, the Director of Residence Life, The Director of Academic Support Services, the Director of Institutional Research, The Director of Greek Life, The Athletics Director, A Public Safety Sergeant, and a staff Psychologist. “

· 7: “We demand that the University establish Partnerships that focus on fostering Minority Business Programs. Examples of these programs are: A) Tuck Business School and Google’s ‘Digital Excellence Program for Minority Entrepreneurs’. B) Kenan-Flager Business School’s Partnership with the Robert Toigo Foundation. C) Foster School of Business’ Partnership with Microsoft to Create a Minority Business Executive Program.”

· 8: “We demand that funds be allocated to the History, Sociology, Psychology, and English departments for the purpose of hiring four new full time professors of color (one in each department) who specialize in Africana Studies.”

· 9: “We demand an increase in Funding for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and for it to become a minor, instead of just an advanced certificate.”