University of Virginia students issue demands following arrest of student

  • After the bloody arrest of University of Virginia junior Martese Johnson, students have issued a list of demands.
  • Demands include 'increasing black faculty and staff,' and 'mandatory online summer cultural competency training.'

University of Virginia students are making demands for professors in response to the recent arrest of UVA junior Martese Johnson. A blog titled “What We Want From UVA Faculty” has surfaced listing many of these demands.

The only post on the WordPress site is an open letter to university faculty compiled of various comments from students about their general sentiments about the faculty and campus community. According to the post, students took the last ten minutes of a class on March 19 to write what they wanted to tell the faculty.

Some of the submissions include:

         “I want my faculty to care about me as an African American student. And I want them to be          aware of their privilege.”

         “I want my faculty to be conscious and actively aware of what is going on in the black          community, especially the black community at the university.”

         “Dear U.Va, do you know how uncomfortable black students are made to feel on a daily basis when they can tell their professors and TAs don’t interact with
          them the same way as they interact with their white counterparts?”

         “I want my faculty to care about me as an African American student. And I want them to be aware of their privilege.”

         “I would like [the faculty] to educate themselves as best as they can on events that affect their students. I want them to realize that academics, curriculum and
          learning materials are not the most important things. The well-being of your students is.”

      “These are unrealistic and ridiculous demands,” said Anthony Hadford, a junior at UVA and a member of the campus’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. “Each student chooses to be here on his own free will. One cannot simply change the entire structure of an education system because of the ‘injustices’ occurring on grounds.”

In reference to their ability to cope with the incident, a student wrote, “please realize that I should not have to explain to you why I am physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically drained...Please respect that I may not perform as usual on assignments and exams, because my mind is not in a place to discuss anything other than the systematic racism I encounter daily.”

Another student wrote about the feelings that they face daily as a student on campus, warning readers that, “[y]ou may not consider yourself ‘racist’ or bigoted or even discriminatory toward black students. But we want you to think long and hard about your implicit biases, about every time you thought negatively about a black student of yours, whether you intentionally wanted to or not. Now, multiply that to every faculty member, cashier, coworker, acquaintance, etc. that we ever have to face as black students.”

One student claimed that “to ‘not see color’ is to ignore and invalidate my history.”

About the classroom environment, a third student wrote, “When students make inappropriate or offensive comments in class, respectfully shut them down. It is not easy to call out your students. But it is right.”

The Black Student Alliance at UVA published a 27 page document on their website outlining the steps they believe the university must take in order to become a more accepting university.

Some of the statements include:

“President Sullivan should order the creation of a mandatory online summer cultural competency training module and a fall orientation presentation”

“Quality assurance and accountability for administration.”

“Supplemental skills training during the summer months when employees of the University are often laid off or temporarily unemployed.”

“Increase and support black students.”

“Increasing black faculty and staff.”

It is unclear whether the university has responded to these demands.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @allie_piper

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