ron-jackson
Ron Jackson, Ph.D. is Professor of Communication and 1st and only African American dean of Arts & Sciences at University of Cincinnati

 

Never have I been so disappointed in the direction of the university with respect to diversity and inclusion than I have been in the last 3-4 years

 

 

By Ron Jackson, Ph.D.

I am a two-time alumnus and former dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Arts and Sciences. I am currently a UC professor, and never have I been so disappointed in the direction of the university with respect to diversity and inclusion than I have been in the last 3-4 years. This is not the fault of the chief diversity officer. This is a structural concern. In the wake of university campus police officer Ray Tensing’s murder of 43-year old Black male Sam DuBose, those on campus have been treated to an assortment of programs ranging from administration-sponsored yoga and art exhibits to panels and student open forums. In what looks more like a non-genuine PR tactical move than an earnest preface to structural change, the administration has invited the campus community to come to vent, express themselves, and share thoughts. The newbies who are experiencing these tactics for the first time fill the room and listen carefully for anything that might signal a shift in how the university leadership intends to address the campus racial climate. To their chagrin almost nothing happens.

[quote_box_right]The abysmally low number of Black students (despite overall student population increases) is complemented by the declining number of full-time Black faculty on main campus, now at less than 5% of 2,000.[/quote_box_right]Meanwhile the University of Cincinnati either choses to ignore the catalyst for the DuBose murder or are too busy covering their behinds. In either case, long-time alumni and community members who have witnessed routine cycles of racism at UC every few years shake their heads, hold private phone conversations, and murmur words like, “I can’t believe this is still happening!”

The catalyst for the UC campus police murder of Sam DuBose, just like the killing of two other Black males at the university in the last 5 years alone, is a racially exclusionary campus climate with recruitment structures to match. The university will adamantly deny this, but here are the facts. In 2000, there were 3,394 (12.6%) Black students at UC’s main campus, and 19,622 Whites (72.7%) out of 26,985 total. In 2008, there were 2,978 (10.1%) Black students on main campus as compared to 21,568 (72.8%) White students. In 2015, there are less than 2,500 (7.3%) Black students on the main campus and approximately 25,000 (73%) White students, and the total population has risen to over 34,000 students on the main campus, and 45,000 students overall on all three campuses. Do you see the trends? The Black student population is declining every year. The abysmally low number of Black students (despite overall student population increases) is complemented by the declining number of full-time Black faculty on main campus, now at less than 5% of 2,000.

[quote_box_left]The newbies who are experiencing these tactics for the first time fill the room and listen carefully for anything that might signal a shift in how the university leadership intends to address the campus racial climate. To their chagrin almost nothing happens.[/quote_box_left]Unfortunately I have heard sundry rationales for why Black student numbers of decreasing. Some citizens have speculated that Blacks are not smart enough to be admitted or even that perhaps Blacks are not graduating from high school at the same rate they have been in the past. I even had one person who rationalized that perhaps Blacks are not having conversations about education in their homes. Just to be clear here, there is such thing as Black student excellence! No one culture, including Whites, has a monopoly on intellectual capacity or academic competence. It is absolutely not acceptable to say that UC cannot find capable high school graduates who can qualify based on admission requirements. Again, there is Black student excellence in the region and beyond! We are a national university who should recruit nationally like all other national universities. So, please, let’s stop with the old excuse of “we can’t find anybody.” It is outdated and smacks of racial exclusion.

[quote_box_right]We are a national university who should recruit nationally like all other national universities. So, please, let’s stop with the old excuse of “we can’t find anybody.” It is outdated and smacks of racial exclusion.[/quote_box_right]The University of Cincinnati gets 18% of its budget from the state of Ohio. That $204 Million comes from taxpayers like you and me. We are essentially funding racially exclusionary practices at UC. Our tax dollars continue to help pay for a campus climate that has bred the kind of racial hostility generated by a campus police department that has killed 3 black males in the last 5 years alone. Our tax dollars pay for a university that has facilitated major declines in African American faculty and student enrollment.

These are our tax dollars at work to fund systematic racial exclusion at UC. When will enough be enough? It’s time to hold Ohio state senators, UC Board of Trustees, and UC leadership responsible for systematic structural change that remedies these problems. The Black Unity Coalition in Cincinnati, comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni, clergy, business leaders, and community members, has already begun circulating a petition with now over 300 signatures.

What can you do to help? Write your elected official, stand in solidarity with the Black Unity Coalition, and sign the petition HERE.

If you want your tax dollars to be used to shift this toxic direction in which UC is headed, act now.

 

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. If it is a truism that we must fight for equal racial representation in all organizations in the US, then we must fight the unfair overrepresentation of blacks in the National Basketball Association (NBA)—78% black and the National Football League (NFL)—68%. Today, blacks represent approximately 13.2 of the US population.

    Until all races can benefit from equal representation in all US organizations, including these fine sports leagues, America will never achieve its dream of representational equality for all.

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