PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – University of Pittsburgh students are taking action against racism.
On Monday, the university’s Black Senate served school officials a list of more than two dozen demands aimed at creating a better on-campus experience for Black students.
“Now is the time. Something needs to change. Something needs to be better,” said Cameron Clarke, a senior anthropology major and Black Senate member at Pitt.
Black Senate members told KDKA after seeing recent acts of racism on campus and across the country, they feel change needs to happen now.
“It’s very traumatic for me,” said Anaya Joynes, a junior industrial engineering major and Black Senate member.
Demands on the list include transforming the mission of the focus of the academic curriculum to be inclusive and comprehensive regarding the plight and triumphs of Black people and establishing both a Masters and PhD Program in Black Studies/Africana Studies.
They also want all faculty and staff to undergo three training sessions a year before the start of each new academic session that cover topics on racial biases, microaggressions, micro-assaults and equity. The list demands a way for students to submit formal complaints when they experience racial bias, the use of excessive force or are unlawfully arrested/detained/searched by University of Pittsburgh police officers.
And they call for an increase in the population of Black students on campus.
The list also called for third party investigations into the aforementioned offenses and for records of termination due to those offenses to be made public to prevent the re-hiring of racially biased officers into other police departments.
Students told KDKA the list has been a long time coming.
“This is not anything new. Fifty or 51 years ago the founding members of the Black Action Society were basically asking for the same things,” Joynes said.
In a statement to KDKA the University of Pittsburgh said:
“These ideas are part of vibrant discussions underway among undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and others who share a belief that it is beyond time for our university both to address systemic racism on our own campuses and to challenge the world around us. Everything from curriculum to hiring and contracting practices and more is under serious consideration.
Through serious reflection and reexamination, impactful solutions are emerging from all parts of the University community. By revisiting the Plan for Pitt to include a stronger focus on combating racial injustice and improving the experience of Black students, we are making a commitment to meaningful action and accountability for progress.”
Members of the University of Pittsburgh’s Black Senate said they want the university to start implementing some of these demands by Aug. 1.
Students will consider negotiating some of the items on the list but won’t stop pushing to have their voices heard, Joynes said.