Race Relations Committee presents report outlining creation of new committees across UM system

Committee Chairman Berkley Hudson: “When you start to pay attention to our humanity and our community, all boats start to rise.”

Berkley Hudson, chairman of the Faculty Council Race Relations Committee, presented a progress report to Faculty Council on Sept. 15 outlining recommendations moving forward.

The report calls for creating “small groups of people committed toward naming the problems of race relations and naming the solutions.” The committee recommends forming new committees across all UM system campuses and also in more focused areas, such as nursing or journalism.

“The [Race Relations Committee] itself was reflective of the larger campus culture,” committee member Stephanie Hernandez stated in the report. “People of color understand how racism impacts their lives. And as much as we explain it, many of the white people in the group did not seem to get it or even believe it.”

The Faculty Council members raised questions about how these new committees would reach out to people beyond their immediate supporters. Hudson agreed he did not want to “preach to the choir,” and the Race Relations Committee is focused on spreading their work to different audiences.

“It took a long time to get people together and say what they want,” committee member Craig Roberts said.

The committee members emphasized they want the future committees to remain small. The current committee has 12 members, but at the meeting, Hudson said that size is probably the largest a committee should be. For future committees, Hudson said, there is no planned size other than “small.” He said there should be at least two students and one staff member on the committee in addition to faculty.

Hudson said the procedure for creating these new committees would start with finding people to form small groups and picking leaders from the groups.

Some Faculty Council members raised concerns about how the Race Relations Committee would successfully choose leaders and committee members.

Hudson seemed unconcerned.

“We’ll use our bulls--- detectors,” Hudson said.

According to the report, the number of black faculty has decreased in the past year, though the total number of black faculty is 12 percent higher than in 2005. Despite the growth from 2005, Hudson said the number of black professors is still too low because it is not equivalent to the percentage of black students.

At MU, 3.7 percent of faculty is black, while 7.2 percent of students are black, according to MU’s Institutional Research. The report does not include comparisons to Missouri’s state demographics; the Census Bureau estimates Missouri's black population is around 11.8 percent.

Hudson said the disparity between black students and black faculty “puts pressure on the faculty of color.”

The report has seven pages of statistics, and the rest of the 98-page report focuses on personal experiences, committee members’ recommendations and historical examples of racism in America. The report also has a timeline of events about race relations that have affected MU.

Hudson said the committee has received backlash for singularly focusing on racial issues instead of multiple social issues. But he said focusing solely on racial issues actually improves overall social well-being.

“When you start to pay attention to our humanity and our community, all boats start to rise,” Hudson said.

Edited by Claire Mitzel | cmitzel@themaneater.com

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