Department Of African American Studies Responds To President Barron, Outlines New Initiatives

Penn State’s Department of African American Studies released an open letter Tuesday in response to President Barron’s statement condemning hate speech released earlier this month.

The letter began by acknowledging victims of police brutality, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Osaze Osagie, a 29-year-old man who was shot and killed in March 2019 by State College Police. The department expressed its support of those protesting police brutality across the globe.

The department then directly called on President Barron “to meet this moment with effective and decisive action rather than ‘plans’, ‘committees’, and other factfinding bodies that effectively delay action.”

“To be clear, we appreciate that your June 10th letter acknowledges that Penn State has much urgent work to do ‘within’ our own Penn State community,” the department wrote. “However, we do not accept the initiatives you listed as legitimate or sufficient responses to historical and contemporary inequities at Penn State and in State College.”

The department outlined six specific ways that Penn State could improve diversity across campus, including severing ties with local police and increasing financial aid for black students.

Additionally, it called on Penn State to create a new task force to address local policing, include race relations courses in general ed requirements, establish a new “well-funded” resource center for underrepresented faculty, and increase mental health resources for black students.

“We call on Penn State to become a local and national leader in combating systemic anti-Black racism on its campuses and eradicating police violence and all forms of state and non-state violence wherever it is found,” the department wrote. “We look forward to your response.”

Earlier this month, Barron issued a statement outlining several policies Penn State will implement to curb hate speech within its community. These included creating new task forces and mandating new bias training for all employees beginning this fall.

You can read the department’s full statement here.

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About the Author

Dana June Nunemacher

Dana is a senior, who is studying public relations. She is from the 570 and yes, she has watched The Office. Her passions in life include drinking unsweetened iced tea and spreading her love for agriculture (yee haw)!

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