UVA Student Activists Call for Racial Justice at the Curry School of Education

A student coalition disrupted the Curry Student Awards Ceremony to emphasize their demands for change.

Video posted from SEEDS4Change Undergraduates of student protestors leading a call-and-response at the Curry Student Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 26

On Thursday, April 26, a coalition of UVA undergraduate and graduate students affiliated with Educators for Racial Justice and SEEDS4Change Undergrads disrupted the Curry Student Awards Ceremony to demand concrete steps towards dismantling white supremacist structures and positive steps towards racial justice at the UVA Curry School of Education. The students held a banner that said “Curry School of Education: Complicit in White Supremacy since 1905” while chanting “For the future of our nation, decolonize our education”, “White Silence is Violence”, and “Black Lives Matter”. Students also lead a call-and-response demanding transparency, economic justice, racial justice, and decolonized education. The action was in support of a set of demands delivered to the administration earlier in the week, endorsed by the Graduate SEEDS4Change, Student Virginia Education Association at UVA (SVEA), The Living Wage Campaign at UVA, UVA Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation, Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC), and Political Latinxs United for Movement & Action in Society (PLUMAS). The protest was met largely with stunned silence from the Curry Student Awards Ceremony audience, comprised of students, faculty, and donors — with the exception of someone immediately calling the police. The Dean of the UVA Curry School of Education has agreed to meet with a group of student organizers on Friday, May 11th.

Read the student demands here.

Student protestor holds a banner next to the podium at the Curry Student Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 26. The banner reads: “Curry School of Education: Complicit in White Supremacy since 1905.”

Statement from Educators for Racial Justice & SEEDS4Change Undergraduates

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”- Desmond Tutu

In the months following the traumatic white supremacist terrorist attack of August 11th and August 12th, the Curry School of Education responded with discussion groups, lofty rhetoric, and startling inaction. Curry will say that they convened a group of student leaders to discuss how to respond. Many of us in SEEDS4Change Undergrad were part of those conversations; we have been part of those conversations for years. Always we have been told that we have been heard, that our concerns are valid, that steps will be taken. And always–always–nothing has come of these empty promises.

Having workshops around “difficult conversations” is not enough to absolve complicity in the same white supremacist structures that created and made inevitable the events of August 11th and August 12th. Having a nationally renowned education scholar give a 1000-level introduction into the definition of racism–that many of our middle school students have a firmer grasp on–is not enough to absolve the Curry School of sending educators and health care professionals into the field with a dangerous lack of cultural literacy–a lack that has been shown time and time again to put students and patients in real danger or incarceration, suffering, and even death. “Engaging Students with Multiple Perspectives” does not absolve the Curry School of having rates of representation marginalized groups for the Faculty and Student Bodies far below state demographics.

We took action today because we have had enough of lofty words, self-congratulating PR campaigns, and enduring and unchallenged white supremacist structures. Curry can no longer keep these conversations behind closed doors. The Curry School of Education, like every institution designed by White Supremacists and sustained by the complicity of its actors, must be critically scrutinized and held accountable.

These, among others, are the deep seated issues in the Curry School. We have given Dean Pianta and Curry administrators our proposed solutions in the form of our Demands, already endorsed by Graduate SEEDS4Change, Student Virginia Education Association at UVA (SVEA), the Living Wage Campaign at UVA, UVA Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation, Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC), Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society (PLUMAS).

Join us in demanding that the Curry School of Education no longer sweep their complicity under the rug and begin to take real substantive change. Join us in holding them accountable. Silence is violence. Inaction is violence. We cannot and will not tolerate it.

We demand transparency.

We demand economic justice.

We demand racial justice.

We demand a decolonized education.

With Love and Rage,
SEEDS4Change Undergrads
Educators for Racial Justice
Student activists hung a banner over the bridge across Emmet St by the Curry School of Education. The banner reads: “Curry School of Education: Complicit in White Supremacy since 1905.”