University students protest for fair treatment

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NORMAL, Ill. (WCIA) — Students are protesting at Illinois State University after the school’s Black Homecoming Committee (BHC) went public with multiple roadblocks it faced while trying to organize events for Homecoming week.

The BHC took to Twitter saying they “had Redbird Arena solidified for a concert” for Oct. 25, and it was canceled on Oct. 1 “because of a last-minute volleyball practice.”

While the obstacles they faced kickstarted the movement, the group and students across campus made it clear they believe minority students are treated unfairly while the university actively promotes diversity.

Members of the committee wished to remain anonymous to avoid any negative consequences but said that they often find trouble securing venues for events.

“We repeatedly find that we’re given secondary priority when we want to book a venue for events behind predominantly white organizations like UPB,” the committee said. “We also recently found out that the person in charge of a big portion of approval when it comes to events, Kate Piper, has been an adviser to UPB for 10 years.”

The organization also said that its members are subject to different security standards when events are held. 

“Not only that, but every event that we have we’re subject to metal detectors and pat downs when white organizations aren’t,” the committee member said. “We feel it’s unfair to subject the black community to this in the name of safety when that same standard isn’t being set for events with a predominantly white attendance.”

The thread of tweets ends with the organization calling out to ISU officials, as well as follows to promote the tweet and improve its visibility.

Among the tagged ISU officials are the official ISU account, Vice President of Student Affairs Levester Johnson and the ISU Student Government Association. 

Protestors took to the Quad on Monday, claiming the university promotes “fake diversity,” and are planning on protesting Wednesday as well.

Video courtesy of The Vidette

Additionally, black student leaders sent ISU leaders, including President Larry Dietz, a list of seven demands in a form letter with the subject “Black ISU Demands.”

The demands include an organization that is “culturally centered to minorities on campus,” an unbiased task force to assess minority groups’ concerns, to hold university officials accountable for discrimination, and for marginalized groups “to be valued and treated in the same way other majority groups are.”

ISU actively promotes its “diverse campus” that reflects “the nation’s changing demographics.”

Tuesday afternoon, Dietz sent a message to the ISU community, saying he is taking students’ concerns seriously.

In the coming days, I will be inviting representatives from concerned student, faculty and staff groups to meet with the Campus Climate Task Force and me. We promise to listen to ideas and determine how we can move forward in making Illinois State University a better place for everyone.
I formed the task force two years ago, and already, their recommendations have made many improvements in our campus environment.”

He also addressed the comment about the reasoning the homecoming event was canceled.

At the same time, I also believe you deserve accurate information about a Homecoming event that has received considerable attention. While an event was discussed, it was never contracted or scheduled with the Department of Athletics or any other area of the University. During discussions about a potential event, security concerns were raised, but these are security protocols that apply to the entire University—not just certain groups or individuals.
In addition, information regarding scheduling conflicts with ISU’s Volleyball program is equally inaccurate. Neither the Redbird Volleyball coach or any assistants or staff members had any involvement in any potential event discussions.
Complicating the issue was that the University first learned about the desired event less than two months before our annual Homecoming celebration.  Most Homecoming events are planned up to a year in advance.”

He ended his letter saying “I know we can improve, and with your help, we will improve.”

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