Racial tensions at the University of Kansas are mounting after an online petition demanded the resignation of three leaders of the university's student body for not “standing in solidarity with their black peers,” the Associated Press (AP) reported Sunday. The resignation demand comes after Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk, a student group, gave the university a list of “diversity demands” Wednesday in order to combat racial issues on campus.
The Senate’s Student Executive Committee supported the student group stating that “black lives matter” and asked that Student Body President Jessie Pringle, Student Body Vice President Zach George and Chief of Staff Adam Moon resign for not backing the group’s demands, the Lawrence Journal-World, a local newspaper, reported. John Cowan, a white graduate student at the university, said he was on hunger strike until all of the “diversity demands” were met.
“We, the undersigned students and alumni of the University of Kansas, have witnessed and experienced racism on campus," the online petition stated. The student group demanded compulsory "inclusion and belonging" training for students and faculty and more diversity in employment, AP reported.
The committee voted 6-3 "no confidence" Friday against the three leaders. One member reportedly did not vote. Senate vice president Shegufta Huma told the Lawrence Journal-World that the vote was the outcome of months of inaction that resulted in the officers' reluctance to support the diversity demands.
"This is part of a larger pattern and some much bigger issues that (the) Senate has been dealing with in terms of our relationship with marginalized communities at KU," Huma told the newspaper.
The three leaders released a statement Saturday, according to AP, saying they planned to go on serving and support minority groups. "Black lives matter. Black lives matter at the University of Kansas," the three leaders reportedly wrote.
University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who is black, reportedly said in a message Friday that her management will start sharing information "early next week" on how the school will address the racial issue.