Eastern President David Glassman said he wants to meet with African-American student organizations on campus to understand what they mean by “not feeling safe” on or off campus.
Glassman also said he plans to have the Student Government, the different vice presidents and the deans to participate in a diversity and inclusion workshop next year.
He said this will help these groups be better prepared and have a better understanding of diversity and inclusion before making important decisions.
The decision to visit students and establish a workshop comes after Glassman and the administration decided not to fly a Black Lives Matter Flag underneath the American Flag on the flagpole in the South Quad during African-American Heritage Month.
Glassman said although he decided not to fly the flag on the flagpole, he told students that they could fly the Black Lives Matter Flag anywhere else on campus.
But Glassman said when he was asked at the kick-off event for African-American Heritage Month what he can do to make African-American students and students of color feel safe on and off campus, he said he wanted to know what exactly the students did not feel safe about.
“What I didn’t understand that day is we know we have a safe campus, if we’re looking at crime and statistics but obviously (the students who asked the original question at the event were) not talking about that (those students were) talking about safe in some other way,” Glassman said.
After the event, Glassman said he told his President’s Council and the Presidential Committee on Diversity and Inclusion that he needed to talk to African-American students on campus to try and identify how those students are “articulating safe.”
“Unless I know what they mean…what is the nature of safe that they feel that this university is not providing them (whether that is) a safe place to speak, a safe place to assemble, a safe place to show their shared symbol of Black Lives Matter, (safety) in the classroom, safety from bigotry, safety from racism… that’s what I have to clarify for me. That’s important for me,” Glassman said.
He said he has not reached out to students or organizations yet, though he plans to before the end of this semester.
“I have every intention to meet with students,” Glassman said.
But when told that the students might be referring to the racism experienced in the Charleston community, Glassman said that is something that needs to be faced head on.
He said if that is how African-American students are defining safe, as in ‘We do not feel safe when we leave the confines of this university’ then he said he needs to identify that and bring those concerns to the city.
“I tried to work with the city on all inclusive activities and initiatives to make it a more accepting community but if no improvement is being seen and there are issues that we can identify that students are experiencing it’s very important that I hear them and take that to the city,” Glassman said. “It’s difficult to change a culture but to ignore it will not make any progress,” Glassman said. “So we have to face it head on…I have to find out if that’s really what they’re talking about.”
Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]