NYU blackout spotlights racism on college campuses
November 17, 2015
In solidarity with University of Missouri and other U.S. colleges, a group of NYU students walked out of their classes and attended Center for Multicultural Education and Programs’ Community and Diversity forum to discuss the future of diversity at NYU. Throughout Monday, the Black Students Union also hosted a blackout event, which took place throughout the day and encouraged students to sign an anti-hate pledge and propose new diversity policies.
At both the community forum and BSU gathering later that evening, students supported the efforts of Missouri’s #ConcernedStudent1950 movement, and also used the platform to discuss NYU’s next steps in furthering diversity and inclusion.
CMEP’s community forum, which took place in the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, featured speakers and performers in leadership positions from organizations such as Steinhardt Black Graduate Student Association, Latinos Unidos con Honor y Amistad @ NYU, the Muslim Student Association, Shades and the Student Diversity Advisory Board. The microphone was then offered to anyone in the crowd who wanted to join the conversation and share their experiences, ideas or encouragement.
Student proposals for new policies included mandatory diversity education, more focus on hiring faculty members of color and the designation of a safe space for students of color to gather and connect without the premise of organized rallies and events.
Stern sophomore Nana Apraku said some of NYU’s programs attempt to promote diversity by showing a black student in an advertisement rather than actually reaching out to prospective minority students. She shared her hopes for a program that would connect NYU with high school students of color in areas like the Bronx and Harlem.
“It’s really hard to feel like you’re going to a school that supports you on paper, but then you walk in the building and there’s no support,” Apraku said. “I just wish there was a program for young students to come and experience these campuses, because at the school I went to there were many other black, smart women who would have done well at an institution like Stern.”
When the forum ended, students were given a space in Kimmel Center for University Life to continue their dialogue.
That evening, attention shifted to the BSU as thy led students in filling the steps of Kimmel’s grand staircase and crowding around the balconies on either side. After a two-minute moment of silence, BSU President Arielle Andrews, a CAS senior, spoke.
“NYU is not isolated from the incidents that have happened around the country,” Andrews said. “Just because our incidences of hatred may not be as forthright, they are still here.”
Other speakers from BSU’s executive board addressed allies, reminding them to continue to attend events and listen to the concerns of black students. After the event, Gallatin freshman Twyntia Thompson said she welcomed the opportunity for discussion that normally wouldn’t happen in her classes.
“I was really excited for it and appreciated that there were legitimate plans of action,” Thompson said. “Especially as a freshman, I don’t have these discussions a lot.”
The BSU continued to encourage the attendance of all students at the university-wide conference, which will be hosted by NYU President John Sexton and the administration on Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Coles.
Email Carmen Russo at [email protected]