President Ray, Black Out Reser, and a Whole Lot of Unanswered Questions
Today, President Ed Ray sent an official email to all students, faculty and staff members in support of Black Out Reser events scheduled on October 20th and November 17th. Previous to this announcement the ASOSU student government, with the support of the OSU Athletic and University Relations and Marketing departments, had made the decision to abandon the Black Out events because of concern that acts of racial insensitivity and bigotry, similar to those in 2007 would resurface. But now the the Black Out is back on and I have some questions I can’t quite answer:
1.) Why did President Ray choose to get involved at this time? Student leaders, universities officials, the student body at large had been discussing this issue for over a week- why the all of a sudden interest? Could it be because the critiques of abandoning the event finally got to loud to ignore? Does President Ray actually feel like the only way to prove to the critics that OSU has made significant strides towards creating an inclusive community is to have a bunch of students wear the same color T-shirts to an athletic event? That’s an insult to all the people who work hard every day to bring about better, more inclusive, learning, living and working conditions on campus. How far our university has come CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be measured by whether students can complete a Black Out without incident. It CAN and SHOULD be measured by our ability to create a university community that seeks to support and retain students, faculty and staff of color. It CAN and SHOULD be measured in the innovative spaces and programs we’ve created to be more inclusive to gender variant individuals and students who are parents. It CAN and SHOULD be measured in the services and support we provide to students and staff with disabilities.
2.) Who deserves to decide when it’s time for a Black Out Reser event to occur? The student government, would seem like a pretty legitimate choice in my opinion. They were after all elected to represent and speak on behalf of the student body- the same student body being encouraged to wear black. And if not the student body, then perhaps those individuals who are the first responders to acts of bias and bigotry should have been invited to the table. Our campus care teams, cultural center directors, residence hall directors and assistants, these are the people that our students come to when they experience acts of hate, discrimination, and bigotry- so shouldn’t they have a say? And lastly what about the students and staff most likely to be hurt physically, mentally, emotionally if the Black Out doesn’t go according to President Ray’s plan, where were their voices in President Ray’s decision making process? And what does it say about our progress as an institution when those voices haven’t been heard?
These are my lingering questions, what are yours?