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Unity 4 Envisions a More Equitable Campus
Center for Sustainability
Some Broncos may remember the hate speech that appeared on the SCU Yik Yak page last Spring that targeted women of color on campus. Although the yaks received widespread condemnation, the event was just one of many racist, sexist, or other prejudiced incidences to occur around the University in a short amount of time. In response, a group of students associated with the Multicultural Center (MCC) and other empowering organizations created Unity 4 - a collective student action calling for systemic changes to University policies. We sat down with Lauren Gardiner, MCC Director, and Alana Hinkston, Associated Student Government (ASG) VP of Public Relations, to discuss Unity 4 initiatives and collaborating with University Administration.
Alana (pictured on left) and Lauren (pictured below), both Class of 2016, have a deep commitment and personal stake in mitigating hate. As African-American students, Alana reckoned that she could “not recall how many time I’ve teared up at this campus.” Alana is inspired to create a better place for her younger brother, who “should be able to attend this school without feeling like a black male.” Removing this feeling of social isolation means more than just educating on what constitutes racist attitudes, but combating the institutional policies that allow racist symptoms to persist. We want to “fight injustice in all the ways it comes up,” she says.
Unity 4, the fourth installment in several decades of unified social justice action by SCU students, released their resolution last May with 21 different tactics. Lauren and Alana stressed the focus on University Core Curriculum and admissions practices, as these areas deal with systemic change the most. Specifically, the document calls for expanding the Core diversity requirement to two courses instead of one, increasing the number of faculty of color and increasing the African American population on campus to 6%. The students ask for sustainable, measurable outcomes to any proposed changes. This would include raising graduation retention rates, of which SCU’s black students’ have the lowest. Students of color should have the support and resources to “leave with a degree,” explained the two.
Last June, Administration wrote a formal response to Unity 4 and committed to continued dialogue, which has been carried out over the course of Fall quarter. Lauren notes that the conversation has been much better than last year, but it’s crucial that students do not settle for “just ‘good enough.’” Schools like Mizzou, American University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at Irvine and University of Minnesota have all recently began drafts for new core curriculum guidelines. Unity 4 members are encouraging SCU to take swift action and “lead the pack” as a Jesuit institution dedicated to values of competence, conscience, and compassion. “As students, our timeline here ends at four years,” explains Alana, “while tenured faculty and administrators may have been here for 30 years.” Lauren, Alana, and the rest of Unity 4 are working toward change that will happen quickly and offer current students - not just future ones - a comfortable, just and equitable learning community.
For more information or how to get involved with Unity 4, contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org and Alana at email@example.com.
Contributed by Blair Libby ‘16, Sustainability Intern for Buildings and Grounds