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DU reacts to controversy over racism at Concordia University in Chicago |

Photo credit: Wednesday newspaper

Litzi Duran

Contributing author

April 15estudent protests erupted at Concordia University Chicago (CUC) after the CUC administration banned a professor who stood up for students facing racism on campus

Paul Stapleton, an English professor at Concordia University, and his wife, Karen Cruz, held a meeting with administrators to draw attention to an incident of racism committed by another faculty member on campus according to a Petition change.org.

In a social media post on facebookhe explains that Stapleton reported to the CUC administration that he made a racist statement during class that black people should be grateful for slavery.

After this meeting was held, the administration did not act against the anonymous professor, rather it acted against Stapleton. He was suddenly banned from campus grounds after raising awareness about the incident. Stapleton was not given a reason why he was banned; he was only told that he could only teach his classes via Zoom, according to the Wednesday Journal.

On April 12, CUC students took to the streets to protest the administration’s ban on Stapleton. During this demonstration, the students expressed that the The culture of the CUC campus is made up of racism and homophobia.

CUC President Russell Dawn called a town hall meeting following the protests. During the meeting, the students shared their frustrations with the administration at not being heard due to their failure to act on past reports and incidents of racism through an online student portal.

To improve the university’s response to racist incidents on campus, Dawn recently proposed a series of diversity and inclusion efforts. These efforts include meetings between administration leaders and student organizations to develop a future plan of action to address racist incidents, as well as student-administration roundtables.

As of now, Chad Rohman, Dominican Dean of Rosary College, said there is no change in the reciprocity between Dominican and Concordia.

Is the Dominican Republic different from the CUC?

According to teachers and students, the Dominican is guilty of having his own faults. Recent issues include the controversial social media post by Dean of Students, Norah Collins Pienta, with a Blue Lives Matter flag on their Facebook page, and the university’s lack of diversity among faculty and staff.

Amy Omi, coordinator of truth and racial healing and university minister in Dominican, does not condone Concordia’s actions.

“I think it’s unconscionable to ban a professor who acts on good conscience and values ​​fairness and wants to support students of color,” Omi said. “[They] are traditionally marginalized students seeking a safe space in an educational environment. They deserve to be educated in a way that does them no harm.

Omi goes on to explain that this action by the Concordia administration is defensive, as it attempts to sweep things under the rug and shift the blame onto those who are innocent. However, she knows Dominican isn’t perfect either. Although Concordia’s racism is seen as more overt, these behaviors at Dominican are more hidden.

“It works in insidious ways that aren’t as easily recognizable,” Omi said. “It’s partly because we have people in positions of power who know how to talk about anti-racism [but] speak only because it confirms their position of power because it’s trending.

Lisa Petrov, Title V project director, points out that the Dominican Republic has done a good job of raising awareness about race and is ready to talk about it, but there is still work to be done.

Petrov and Omi have come together to create White Accountability Circles that faculty and staff can participate in.

According to Omi, the goal of these initiatives is to study how white supremacy works, its impact on white socialization, and how current racial constructs provide white people with privileges and resources that BIPOC people are denied.

Petrov and Omi both admit change has been slow at Dominican. This is because faculty and staff must be willing to participate in these efforts because all work is voluntary. Petrov estimates that there were only 10 faculty and staff members who participated in these circles.

“You can offer sessions and provide opportunities for learning and experiences, but ultimately it’s the faculty and staff and even the students who sign up and decide to do that work, as opposed to what that everyone has to do,” Petrov said. .

Looking to the future of DU:

Kymbrea Valrey, Madam President of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club at DU, hopes that one day the faculty and staff at Dominican will become truly diverse. She believes that diversity is the key to increasing the black student population at DU because right now that sense of belonging is lacking.

“The biggest role in why black/African American students don’t feel connected or welcomed is because they don’t see enough of their people to feel comfortable,” Valrey said. “It is possible to engage more minority students if they see the same people in the institution as themselves.”

Although change takes a long time to happen, Omi and Petrov are happy to have people in positions of power who are willing to participate in DEI’s work. They say they both look forward to how President Glena Temple will impact the Dominican Republic, as she has shown that she holds these values ​​to heart.

“I’m more hopeful than ever and that’s because the new president really cares about this job and is ready to be hated for it. At the top, we have great leadership for DEI work,” Petrov said.

There are also no updates on the CUC racism incident at this time.

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