African-American students at the University of Virginia spelled out their grievances regarding race relations and inclusion at the school, laying them out in a lengthy document posted online. After weeks of protests at the Charlottesville, Virginia, campus, sparked by the arrest of a third-year black student last month, the university’s Black Student Alliance Sunday demanded officials own up to the institution’s “horrific history in regard to its treatment of black people and [work] diligently to correct these wrongs.”
The 27-page document, titled “Towards a Better University,” contains 14 recommendations for righting the wrongs that the student alliance says were evident in last month’s bloody state police arrest of Martese Johnson. The “serious unrest” among students brought on by the arrest was a result of the university’s lack of effort to address the long-held grievances of racial minorities on the Charlottesville campus, the alliance said.
“This unrest has been further amplified by the unfulfilled promises and blind eyes turned towards these issues by the very people who are charged with addressing them,” the authors wrote. “Ignoring this unrest at the administrative level is oppressive and detrimental to the creation and maintenance of a culture of trust, honor and community at this university.”
The document's recommendations include the university publicly acknowledging the nearly 200-year-old campus was built by slave labor. The authors are also asking university President Teresa Sullivan andAllen Groves, the dean of students, to create a mandatory online summer cultural competency training course similar to UVA’s online course in alcohol awareness.
“In outlining these recommendations, we are delivering unto the university an important but long-delayed set of remedies to a host of challenges,” the authors wrote. “If we are what we say we are, and truly believe in what we say we do, then surely members from every corner of our community will be ready and willing to work on this project of bringing us one step closer towards a better university.”
The document’s authors include the NAACP at UVA, the African Studies Initiative, the black women’s and black male initiatives, as well as several historically black fraternities and sororities that have campus chapters. A university spokesman told local newspaper the Daily Progress Sunday he had not read the document and declined comment.
Johnson, who joined students in protest of his March 18 arrest, received several stitches on his head and face. After his arrest outside an Irish pub by officers of the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Johnson was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice. The incident happened as a national conversation about the use of force by law enforcement against minorities continued in the wake of several high-profile police killings last year. The students have asked Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to ban the state police presence at the campus.
In response to student protests, McAuliffe has mandated beverage control officers undergo new diversity and use of force training, the Daily Progress reported. McAuliffe has also called for officers to draft memorandums of understanding with police departments in college towns and empanelled state officials to come up with additional reforms for the beverage control officers by Nov. 1.