LBC ‘Demands’ event focuses on the organization’s founding

Students discussed the original “demands” of the founders in the 1960s.

The Legion of Black Collegians hosted an event Wednesday to discuss the demands of the organization and how students feel about being a minority on campus. The event took place in the Gaines/Oldham Black Cultural Center.

LBC activities chairman Jeffery Perkins moderated the discussion. Panelists included former LBC President Whitney Williams, former Sen. Erin Vincent, coordinator for student conduct Donell Young, and former Vice President Kristen Andrews.

Students from around campus attended to be part of the discussion.

Perkins began the discussion by talking about the original demands of LBC created in 1968. Students discussed whether they wanted to keep calling them “demands” and which were still important to the organization.

“It’s important to ask students what they want,” Young said. “Some of the (demands) are from the ‘60s.”

One of the founders of LBC and current MU Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton was in attendance during part of the discussion and talked about how times have changed since he wrote the demands in the 1960s.

“In the ‘60s, it was a different environment,” Middleton said. “You may want to call them something other than demands. It was appropriate in the ‘60’s, when there were 50 or so black students on campus. The ‘60s were a time to demand rights.”

Having more black faculty on campus is one of the demands of the organization, and students talked about the importance of this. Perkins also showed a pie chart of the percentages of professors from different races on campus, showing that in 2011, MU had only 36 black professors, or 2.9 percent.

“It bothers me to have to take black studies classes to have black professors,” Andrews said.

Other students had different perspectives.

“It would be amazing to have more (black professors),” audience member Curtis Taylor Jr. said. “But we don’t utilize the power that we do have. We can’t request something if we don’t do anything to make it happen.”

Whitney agreed, saying when an organization hosts an event that is poorly attended by students, it’s irritating.

“It’s irritating to know that you want African-American faculty, but we can’t get you to come out the events,” she said.

Middelton said it’s important to promote black faculty in all fields of study on campus, but says the problem is not necessarily in the hiring process; the trouble is keeping them at MU.

“We have trouble attracting qualified blacks,” he said. “Our success is diminished by the salary structure; it’s not as competitive as other campuses and we can’t fault faculty for moving around.”

A major point discussed was the move toward the departmentalization of black studies here on campus and how that affects the students and faculty.

Ronecia Duke, an audience member, said LBC has been trying to get this done during all four years she’s been here.

Taylor said he feels that the black studies major is a great achievement but he wants the program to offer something other than what is considered typical.

The group discussed whether it is appropriate to use the word “black” in event titles, such as the Welcome Black Barbecue and Black Homecoming.

Some students felt that using the word discourages others from attending the events.

“People say, ‘Um, I don’t have to be black?’ and they don’t feel comfortable,” audience member Hasani Henderson said.

Other students felt it’s necessary to continue using the word in programing.

“I’m 100 percent against not having 'black' in it,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t come (if you’re not black).”

The discussion covered a variety of topics and many students felt it was successful.

“It was very beneficial,” audience member Kandice Head said. “It was much needed, especially on this campus. I feel that race is awkwardly thrown into the campus and people try to ignore it.”

Other students said it wasn’t anything new.

“It wasn’t necessarily informational,” she said. “It was stuff I already knew. To underclassmen, it might have been beneficial but I’ve attended this before.”

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