May 08, 2014

BSA Speaks Out Against Racism, Calls for Greater Campus Diversity

Members of the Black Student Alliance answer questions as Stefan Bradley, Ph.D., director of African-American Studies, looks on. Submitted photo
Members of the Black Student Alliance answer questions as Stefan Bradley, Ph.D., director of African-American Studies, looks on. Submitted photo

Saint Louis University's Black Student Alliance (BSA) held a news conference Tuesday night to condemn the recent acts of bias and hate on SLU's campus.

The group also called for the University to do more to promote diversity, including recruiting and retaining more African-American students and professors, as well as requiring students to enroll in cultural awareness classes.

The event drew approximately 100 students, faculty, staff and administrators. Kimberly Turner, BSA secretary and a sophomore in the College for Public Health and Social Justice, said it was "very encouraging" to see so many University leaders in attendance.

"Having the opportunity to invite members of the administration and to see their support by showing up was really important and meaningful," Turner said.

Interim President William Kauffman was among the senior leaders on hand for the event. Briefly addressing the gathering, he expressed a willingness to work with the BSA and promised that he and other University officials would meet with members within 48 hours to discuss their concerns. Following the meeting, he commended the students for coming forward to raise important issues.

"These are issues facing every college and university in this country," Kauffman said. "Given our mission and values, we must and will do everything we can to foster the most inclusive campus possible for every member of our community."

Stefan Bradley, Ph.D., director of African-American studies and associate professor of history, was asked to moderate a question-and-answer session that followed the BSA's formal presentation. Bradley, who studies the role that young people have played in shaping post-WWII American society, said he was proud of the students for having the courage to speak out for people they may not know or may never meet.

"Here at Saint Louis University, we teach students to look out for others, and this is a demonstration of that lesson," Bradley said. "For me, the idea that the students were able to get beyond the pressures of individualism to work in a collective manner is inspirational on a number of levels and gives me great hope for the future."

Turner said the BSA plans to remain focused on these issues in the months ahead and will collaborate with other Chartered Student Organizations to keep conversations moving forward. Members of the SLU community with ideas for promoting diversity on campus are encouraged to email the group at bsa@slu.edu.

"None of us can do this alone, so it's vitally important that we work together," Turner said. "This must be a campuswide effort if we are going to affect the change that we're all striving for."

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