Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Taryn Parsons at email@example.com.
Chancellor Philip DiStefano met with University of Colorado’s Black Student Alliance on Wednesday to discuss racial issues on campus. It was the first time the chancellor personally met with BSA to address their concerns.
BSA co-presidents, Samantha Williams and Paris Ferribee, said the meeting was an important event for the future of students of color on campus.
“It’s important just to let him know there’s certain things on campus we’re uncomfortable about,” Williams said. “We’re happy with the turnout and happy with the discussion that was fostered from both sides today, and we’re happy that he came out and sat down with us, talked to us and listened to us.”
“It was cool that the students were comfortable enough to let their hair down and be able to share [with DiStefano] as if they were talking to one of us in the BSA,” Ferribee added.
The students hope that this meeting will positively affect the way students of color are treated on campus. In light of the administration’s efforts since last May to create a more inclusive environment, the meeting represents the next step in a process that could result in positive change.
At the meeting, DiStefano acknowledged the importance of their concerns and listened to their ideas. The meeting encouraged students to have more faith in the administration and its plans to address racial issues that have burdened students for years.
“There was a person that participated in tonight’s dialogue who [was] a student and worked for the university for 10 years,” Ferribee said. “They were part of BSA when they were a student. These are the same recommendations from 10 years ago, and nothing’s happened yet.”
BSA has come up with possible solutions for the racial injustice on campus that they hope the chancellor will help implement. Chaunsae Dyson and Biruk Zelalem, both freshman at CU, are among those with ideas about what DiStefano could do to help eradicate racism on campus.
“What I want to see [addressed] most is cultural appropriation,” Dyson said. “Not only that, but awareness that if you’re going to listen to black music or Hispanic music, if you’re going to dress like the rappers you see on TV, don’t go around here not caring about the people you’re dressing like.”
“I really hope that there will be a class that talks about race relations specifically and not just diversity in general, because I feel like those are two separate conversations,” Zelalem said. “I really hope that the chancellor also has some sort of class or training for the staff, because they’re the ones we look up to, they’re the ones who educate us, and to sweep these conversations under the rug sends the wrong message to students.”
Associate Professor Dr. Hillary Potter said solutions for racial issues around campus need to be multifaceted.
“Even with the conversation that has happened today, things need to happen at a student body level,” Potter said. “You have to make sure the faculty and the staff and the students are all culturally competent.”
Dr. Potter also said that because of the recent events at the University of Missouri, the administrators at CU are taking the concerns of the BSA more seriously. She acknowledged that it was unfortunate that it took such a dramatic incident for any change to begin here at CU.
But this is just the beginning.
“This meeting was kind of like an introduction to set a foundation to set the precedent for our expectations,” said Ferribee. “I think DiStefano is a good administrator because he listens, and I hope that leads to getting things done.”