Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, May 29, 2017

Staff editorial: In support of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

Black students were sold an experience that the University has not sufficiently provided

Staff editorial: In support of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

Student Government President Taylor Dumpson, right, addresses interim Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw and University President Neil Kerwin at a community meeting on May 2. 

On May 1, the campus awoke and a new American University Student Government president, Taylor Dumpson, began her first day in office. The same day, the campus community confronted a direct threat against the black women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, a historically African-American sorority. As a member of that sorority, Dumpson potently replied, “We must use this time to reflect on what we value as a community: that bigotry, hate and racism cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The Eagle agrees wholeheartedly. We pledge our support to the black women of American University, who have a right to an unassailed academic experience of safety, support and success.

We acknowledge that black students were sold an experience at AU that the University has not sufficiently provided and that the University continues to market black bodies without evenly prioritizing those bodies upon their matriculation. It is one thing to directly market the campus to students of color, with leading programs such as the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program. It is another thing for the campus community to be unsafe for students of color, exacerbated by a lack of AU alerts for hate crimes.

Thus, we support students’ efforts to pursue justice. The issues we are experiencing are endemic; some University staff have been here for many years and have yet to fully acknowledge nor effectively heal our campus community in their tenures. If our campus community has arrived at the point of the involvement of the FBI, then it behooves us as a community to recognize that this trajectory is unnatural and unsustainable.

The Eagle is discouraged that it took a hate crime to make key University staff such as lame duck President Neil Kerwin, Provost Scott Bass and Public Safety Executive Director Phillip Morse to show up. We are hopeful that the incoming University president, Sylvia Burwell, will break with the negligent precedent set forth by the previous administration.

Kerwin inopportunely spoke about healing at the town hall; we hope that, conversely, Burwell will provide concrete, preventative measures to protect and productively facilitate black students’ experience at AU. In an ideal world, the incoming administration will publicly disseminate the results of meetings with students, keep The Eagle informed in a timely manner and prioritize the sincere concerns of students before personal feelings, regardless of the tone in which the concerns are voiced. University staff were hired to perform their job duties, none of which involve tone policing, assaulting students of color or delaying action.

We at The Eagle would like to publicly reaffirm that our editorial board is an equalizing, inclusive forum of debate and discourse. As student journalists, we will continue to speak truth to power, pursue the facts and push for freedom of information between the University administration and the student body because this issue matters, to us and to our community.

Thus, in the words of Kerwin, know that The Eagle and the American University student body remains committed to the principles of diversity, inclusion, common courtesy and human dignity. Anyone, including University staff, who does not feel the same or cannot effectively deliver upon these principles does not belong here.

edpage@theeagleonline.com