Penn State professors protest, say school is perpetuating 'racial injustice'

Five Penn State University professors protested against what they claim is the school’s hampering of ‘racial justice’ efforts.

At the center of the controversy are allegations that Penn State leadership did not deliver promised funds to various DEI programs.

Five Penn State University faculty members demonstrated against the university’s alleged “deliberate indifference to issues of racial injustice” on March 11, according to Penn State’s student paper Daily Collegian.

The five Black professors were Gary King, Michael West, Christopher Dancy, Darryl C. Thomas, and Jennifer Black.

Gary King, Professor of Biobehavioral Health at the school, stated that the protest was partially inspired by an article in Spotlight PA that he described as “so revealing,” wrote the Collegian.

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The article in question highlighted Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi’s alleged failure to deliver on a promise to invest certain funds in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives within the university.

In 2022, Bendapudi canceled plans to construct a Center for Racial Justice at the university, reportedly promising to transfer the millions of dollars originally meant for the new institution to already-established DEI initiatives, according to Spotlight PA.

The idea for the Center came about following the 2020 summer riots triggered by the death of George Floyd, according to The Washington Post.

Penn State pledged to form the center in September, 2021, with hopes of addressing “the challenges of racism, racial bias and community safety that persist in our nation.”

Spotlight PA alleged that, despite Bendapudi’s promise to use the Center’s planned funds to support DEI programs, several of these programs now have less funding than they did in the past.

Last April, Penn State announced plans to “[e]stablish a multi-tiered, equity-centered ‘one-stop’ resource hub for students,” “[d]evelop a faculty hiring program to help diversify Penn State’s faculty,” “[d]evelop a staff hiring program to address diversity among staff and to support staff members in their career and professional development,” and “[d]evelop a new University-wide system for reporting wrongdoing, including bias reporting.”

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Penn State student Micah Chandler told Campus Reform that “the belief that Penn State somehow doesn’t support this mythical idea of ‘racial justice’ is . . .  incorrect. Penn State has consistently catered to the demands of these activists, even more so since 2020. . . . it is never enough.”

”No matter what Penn State does, these activists demand more, because, at the end of the day, these activists don’t see Penn State as being imperfect, they see it as something that must be destroyed and rebuilt in an anti-racist image,” Chandler added.

Campus Reform has reached out to Penn State and the protesting faculty members. This article will be updated accordingly.