FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fordham University’s Black Student Alliance Releases Demands to Combat Racism on Campus
Updated list reflects unaddressed demands and new concerns related to student life on campus.
NEW YORK, NY (September 2, 2020) ASILI, Fordham University’s Black Student Alliance, just announced a list of demands to combat anti-Blackness at Fordham University. The new demands include eight of the group’s 11 initial demands, released on June 22, which remain unaddressed by administrators at the University.
Students demand that Fordham acknowledge its relationship with the New York Police Department, acknowledge racist, harmful policies and hire more Black faculty and staff. In addition, as students return to campus, ASILI demands that administrators directly address racism in the Offices of Residential Life and Student Involvement.
ASILI students decided to release these new demands after a recent meeting with Fordham administration in which administrators indicated that they did not intend to address the group’s demands, citing the need to focus on re-opening campuses to students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic instead.
ASILI’s demands of the University are broad in scope, addressing curriculum, staffing, university vendor contracts, public safety policy, student life, student conduct policy and training.
ASILI has asked Fordham students and alumni to advocate for Black students by sharing the demands with university administrators via email. In June, students and alumni used a student-created email shortcut to urge administrative action on ASILI’s demands. The email shortcut for the updated demands can be found here.
Some members of ASILI are available for interviews both on background and on the record.
Fordham Anti-Racist Alumni Collective (FAAC) is an alumni collective committed to supporting the demands of ASILI, Fordham University’s Black Student Alliance, and Black students for transformational change at Fordham University.
- Acknowledge and unpack Public Safety’s ties to police, as the University of Minnesota has done with the MPD.
Although Fordham University does not have a written contract with the NYPD, as the University of Minnesota does with MPD, the public safety department hires ex-NYPD officers to patrol Fordham and the surrounding community. This raises concerns for Black students as the NYPD has a history of brutalizing Black and brown communities. Fordham University must re-examine how these officers interact not only with Black students on campus, but also the surrounding community. These officers must undergo effective bias training every year, and any officer that had a record of excessive use of force or any other bias related incident while working for NYPD must be fired. It concerns us that these ex-NYPD officers also bring in the NYPD to investigate any crime that happens to students on and off campus. Fordham must stop increasing the presence of NYPD in the surrounding community, and use other tactics to address these crimes.
- Hire more Black professors at Fordham, and more specifically queer Black professors and Black women professors, who work outside of the African-African American Studies Department.
Black students are rarely afforded the opportunity to see themselves reflected in their studies, and much less in those teaching them. Hiring white professors or other professors of color who simply teach about anti-racism and the Black experience often have not experienced anti-Blackness nor understand the unique experiences of Black students outside of studying or observing. Paul D. Umbach, a professor of Higher Education at NC State University conducted a study in which he used data from 13,499 faculty at 134 colleges and universities to explore the impact of faculty of color on undergraduate education. The study finds compelling evidence that suggests 1) Faculty of color employ a broader range of pedagogical techniques and interact more frequently than their white counterparts and 2) Greater structural diversity among faculty leads to an increased use of effective educational practices. Black students deserve to have professors who understand and relate to their experiences on a deeper level and can teach about these experiences. Diversifying Fordham’s faculty not only serves Black students in their educational pursuits but the student body as a whole.
- Appoint more Black and queer people into administrative positions. White and straight people, who have never experienced racism or homophobia, should not have the sole decision making power on Fordham’s campus. Appointing marginalized people to solely occupy the roles of Chief Diversity Officers does not show a dedication to diversity, but instead shows a belief that marginalized people, specifically people of color, can only provide insight through the lens of their own racial, gender, or sexual identity.
- Promote the Chief Diversity Officer position to a Senior Vice President Status.
While there needs to be more Black and Queer people in administrative positions in general, these administrators need to have just as much decision making power as the rest of Fordham’s administration. The Chief Diversity Officer holds the thankless job of advocating for all marginalized students on campus, yet their status as a Junior Vice President limits their decision making power, which in turn disproportionately impacts marginalized students. The CDO position is not any less important than that of the Dean of Students or the Vice President of Student affairs, and in order to fulfill their responsibilities, they must be equipped with as much power as other administrators to effectively advocate for marginalized students.
- Black student representation on all adjudication committees that pertain to students.
The criminalization of Black and brown people in society creates an unfair and biased judicial process that assumes the deviance of and disproportionately targets people of color. Therefore, Black students must be represented on all adjudication committees to ensure that racial prejudices do not play a role in the sanctioning of students.
- Acknowledge the problematic, exclusionary gates and reframe Fordham’s security policy.
We understand with Covid-19 and fears surrounding possible outbreak on campus, Fordham will be restricting access through its gates even more. However, we suggest that while preparing to return to normal in the coming year, Fordham takes the necessary steps to become an open campus, like most colleges and universities in the Bronx, and entirely restructures the security system that otherizes Black and brown students on campus, yet allows white students on campus without a second thought. These steps include: allowing anyone onto open spaces on campus (i.e: St. Edwards Parade), but requiring an ID swipe to get into campus buildings (residence halls, academic buildings, etc.); allowing for campus resources, such as the library or gymnasium, to be open to the public during weekdays from 7 am-7 pm; relocate security checkpoints to buildings instead of gates.
- Recruit more Black and brown Resident Assistants (RAs) and Resident Directors (RDs), especially students from the Bronx.
Black and brown students need to feel comfortable with those hired to look after them in their campus living spaces. Hiring mostly white RAs and RDs creates an environment in which students of color are unable to feel protected or understood by the leadership in their living environment. Therefore, widen the scope by which RAs are recruited and selected, ensuring that students of all backgrounds are considered for the RA position, not just those who speak a certain way or have particular mannerisms. Additionally, an “us vs. them” attitude exists on campus surrounding the relationship between resident students and commuters, which is oftentimes racialized and leads to the otherization of students of color, specifically Black and brown students on campus. Recruiting commuter students, specifically those from the Bronx, ensures that not only the presence of more Black and brown RAs, but also that those from the surrounding community are represented in student living spaces, diminishing the otherization of students of color on campus.
- Resident Directors cannot pick Resident Assistants that were residents in their own halls.
Not only does this demonstrate clear favoritism, it also gives an unfair advantage to resident students, who already have a boost in this process due to their knowledge of resident life. To even the playing field for commuter students, RDs can only pick RAs who they have no personal history or connection with.
- Resident Assistants must participate in a mandatory, effective anti-racist bias training.
Black and brown students need to feel comfortable going to their white and non-Black RAs. However, in order to do so, they need to be assured that their RAs understand and work towards being anti-racist. Therefore, at the beginning of each school year RAs must participate in a mandatory anti-racist bias training so that their Black and brown residents feel safe in their living spaces.
- Resident Assistants must participate in a mandatory seminar about the Bronx and Bronx History.
Because most RAs are not from the Bronx, they oftentimes perpetuate negative narratives about our surrounding community. A mandatory seminar about the Bronx and Bronx history will help these students better understand the community around them, and will provide a context so that they do not instill these negative stereotypes about the Bronx in their residents.
- Prioritize Counseling and Psychological Services, especially by ensuring that there are staff specifically trained to handle the needs of marginalized students who seek out services due to feeling unsafe on campus.
Other suggestions include hiring more Black therapists who understand the very specific traumas involved with racial profiling, police brutality, and other race-related incidents that affect the lives of students of color; hiring therapists who understand the intersectionality between race and sexuality, specifically the Black queer identity and the specific traumas many Black queer people face; making CPS more accessible to students by allowing a greater number of sessions per student per academic year; and/or hiring more staff members to accommodate a growing population of students seeking these crucial resources.
- Students who are arrested for protesting off campus should not face any punishment from the University.
As we are a University committed to promoting Jesuit values, students who choose to protest against injustice, specifically police brutality, should not face any repercussions from the University.
- Recognize Advocates for a Palestinian Perspective as a club on campus and apologize for the racist terrorization of Students for Justice for Palestine at Lincoln Center.
Palestinian rights are human rights. Vice President Gray’s inappropriate analogy comparing Brown students to the Ku Klux Klan cannot go unpunished. These clubs are advocating for liberation from a colonial settlement and the political views of university staff and administration cannot permit discriminatory practices that do not allow for the existence of these clubs on campus.
- Remove or thoroughly restructure the University’s restrictive demonstration policy, allowing students to protest and organize reactively.
Specifically, remove the stipulation that demonstrations must occur at least two business days after meeting with the Dean of Students. The main concerns that the demonstration policy appears to address are those of scheduling and access. In lieu of a policy that requires permission to protest, instate a policy in which demonstrations are permitted so long as they do not block doors, use an already reserved space, or otherwise interfere with sanctioned university activities would be preferable. The policy as it stands has prevented students from effectively organizing, but if demonstrators pose no threat to students or activities, community members should be permitted to exercise their free speech rights on campus through demonstration.
- Make a commitment to combating anti-Blackness at Fordham University through course requirements. It is the responsibility of the University to use education as a way to combat implicit biases their students may have by requiring them to unlearn racism through coursework. Suggestions include a course on the importance of being anti-racist during freshman orientation; or a class that all students, including those in Gabelli, must take as a core requirement that addresses anti-Blackness and promotes an anti-racist education.
- Follow the lead of other universities, such as NYU, in cutting ties with Aramark, a company that has a history of prison abuse and racism. Aramark is known for being at the forefront of prison food misconduct. Given that Black and brown men disproportionately make up the majority of the prison system, Fordham’s association with Aramark shows an irresponsible relationship with the systemic oppression of Black and brown communities. If Fordham is to make a meaningful commitment to honoring Jesuit values, then the University must end relationships with companies that abuse society’s most vulnerable. Prisoners have very little autonomy, therefore it is the University’s responsibility to only enter into contracts with companies that are not abusive. Suggestions include dissolving Fordham’s contract with Aramark and beginning a new one with Chartwells.