University promotes students' demands, including 'Black Student Space' on campus

Among the other demands outlined in the public statement, students demand the WWU Police Department be defunded and those funds reinvested in black mental health counselors.

Black Student Organizations at Western Washington University demanded that construction on a campus building cease in order to create a "black student space."

Western Washington University students are demanding that construction on a community building be halted to create a space for Black students.

Black Student Organizations at Western Washington University published a detailed list of demands, urging the university to respond immediately. Professor and Faculty Senate President Jeff Young posted the demands on the university website, because “Western students asked that I share this with faculty so that we can work to address problems here and now on our campus.”

One of the demands goes so far as to demand the halting of construction of a campus community building to “Create a Black Student Space.”

Other demands of the Black Student Organizations include defunding the WWU Police Department. They also support abolishing the student government at the university because it “is beyond reform, as the professional staff care more about the use of Venmo for fundraisers than the safety and wellbeing of Black students.”

In their letter, the Black Student Organizations at the University say they “are tired of being used as tokens.”

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“We are writing this statement to demand that you start with us first. Fix what has been broken for decades on this campus, before committing to stand with the nation and the world for racial justice,” the Black Student Organizations statement says. “In the event our previously expressed needs have escaped your memory, we are including them in this document, along with additional demands to help the university move beyond lip service and into action.” 

One demand from the Black Student Organizations calls for halting the construction of the “Viking Union” building on campus. The university website describes the union as a center that “welcomes and engages students, faculty, staff, and guests in building a diverse community,” adding “we continually strive to enhance the Western Experience through supporting student leadership, campus involvement, creative expression, and by providing services, recreation and events in our venues.” 

The Black Student Organizations say that a space for Black students to feel comfortable and safe must be created after construction is halted on the Viking Union Building. They expect the university to complete the construction of the Black Students’ space by the 2021 winter quarter.

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“We demand for the immediate halt of all Viking Union construction. We demand that you, Eric Alexander and Greg Mcbride begin the process of repurposing Viking Union 535-547 to be a space for Black Students to seek comfort in. We demand the space to be refurbished and remodeled to include a study area, a common area, and a meeting room,” the demand states. 

According to the letter, instead of investing in the police, investments should be redirected to hiring and training more black mental health counselors, the same statement demands. 

“We are familiar with the broad statement issued by Police Chief, Darin Rasmussen, on Western’s homepage. This statement does not reflect an understanding of the insidious nature of racism, nor does it speak to the ways in which acts of racial violence play out daily on our campus,” their statement reads, “We demand this nationwide search for additional counselors start immediately, and that the university includes Black students as part of the hiring committee.”

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Young told Campus Reform that the faculty senate is not currently meeting, but he expects it will tackle some of these issues soon. 

“[The] Faculty Senate met for the last time this academic year on June 1st, before the statement was released. We won’t meet again till fall quarter. I’m sure the senate will engage in these issues at that time,” Young said. 

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