As scholars of race and ethnicity in the United States, we were disappointed to learn that the University’s Homecoming Committee had posted a video online that ended up deepening the sense of alienation felt by many students of color on campus instead of contributing to the celebration.
Students have raised their voices about this, and we hear them. Indeed, the incident takes many of us back to our own early experiences in higher education, and our own struggles to find our places in institutions that offered much, but sometimes pushed us away in subtle and unsubtle ways.
This is not the first racially charged incident to attract the campus’s attention in recent years—or even this semester. The emerging pattern should make us all sit up and take notice. We urge students, staff, and our fellow faculty to redouble efforts at dialogue, reflection, and self-examination. If you spend enough time in communities of Latin American descent you might just hear somebody say that el respeto es básico–respect is basic. Maybe that’s a place to start.
We were heartened by the University’s thoughtful response from the past week, and by the Chancellor’s words on the subject in her State of the University Address. We also appreciate the concrete steps outlined in a recent email to the campus community from Vice Chancellor Reesor, Deputy Vice Chancellor Sims, and Alumni Association Director Schutt.
Through our academic offerings, the CLS Program will continue to educate the campus community about inequality and injustice. Through our co-curricular programming, we will help students find and create a dignified and informed community on campus. The controversy surrounding the homecoming video is one more sign that what we do is central and critical for OUR university to become more just. In the coming months and years, we will strive to offer and engage with new paradigms that we believe can lead us all toward common ground as community, state, and nation.
Armando Ibarra, Director
Mary Louise Gomez
Diego X. Román