A look at the rhetoric surrounding dialogue on diversity, changing strategies in activism and remaining challenges the University faces.
Wash. U. boasts a number of black administrators, but that diversity hasn’t extended to the faculty ranks, and University officials pointed to these numbers as the hardest to change.
Ask administrators about Wash. U.’ history of recruiting black students, and they’ll say that attempts to diversify the undergraduate population aren’t new. “We’ve been focused on it for a really long time,” Julie Shimabukuro, the Japanese-American director of admissions, said. “Wash. U.’s my alma mater, so this is a really important thing to me personally and to our office.” But the numbers don’t bear out tangible results from that focus.
Washington University’s early history with racial integration was a rocky one. In the late 1800s, with the onset of Jim Crow segregation throughout the nation, institutions like Wash. U. that had previously accepted black students, however infrequently, completely barred their doors to them.
The reporting for this series began last August with research on the Black Manifesto Collection archived in Olin Library’s special collections section. This collection contains the 1968 Black Manifesto, as well as subsequent manifestos and related documents.
Over the course of the fall semester, Student Life spoke with nearly 50 University community members, comprising administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni. We were searching for evidence of a plan to counteract the University’s history of homogeneity; we hoped to hear tangible, specific tactics that the administration will either continue or adopt to increase the low percentages of black students and faculty and to improve the campus climate.
Black Anthology focused on the importance of staying aware of racial issues post-Ferguson in its performances this weekend. This year’s production, titled “woke,” depicted the hardships and adversity African-Americans experience on a daily basis on predominantly white campuses.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Beyonce Knowles shocked and offended angry white people everywhere when she dared to remind the world that she is, in fact, black. But perhaps that’s an oversimplification of the criticism she’s received in light of her new “Formation” music video and halftime performance, so I’ll take a minute to examine the charges.
Dawn-Elissa Fischer, a Washington University alumna and associate professor of Africana studies at San Francisco State University, spoke about her research into hip-hop and her efforts to improve racial diversity.
As hundreds of new students enter life at Washington University, an entire department of professors is learning the ins and outs of the University as well. The sociology department, re-formed this semester after a nearly 25-year hiatus, currently consists of three professors, all new or returning inhabitants of St. Louis: David Cunningham, Jake Rosenfeld and Adia Harvey Wingfield. Each has unique expectations for the department and for the University.