Op-Ed, Opinion

We need to do better by our Black students

Last week, news of a video posted allegedly by a University of Miami freshman saying racial remarks circulated around campus and caused quite a stir.

Though the boldness of it was baffling, it is not in the least surprising to see a video like this, even from another person of color. It is merely a mirror of the intense racial discrimination against Black folks seen all over our country through social media, and now the ugly head of racism has reared its head on our campus.

It is important that our university be transparent as possible with how they handle this situation. Though their swiftness to comment on the issue when alerted was commendable, students need to know more. Hiding behind keywords and “we’re working on it” just doesn’t work.

This isn’t just about disciplinary issues; this alleged student said some very offensive and threatening things that can make our Black students feel a whole lot less safe. If our students can’t feel safe on campus, then the legitimacy of this school will be undermined. Black students need to know that this institution respects them.

We call on the administration to be more transparent in all matters, especially racially charged ones. When incidents like this happen, we need to be regularly updated, as it is the students’ right to know. Last year, there was an incident that occurred where a student took down and stole a Black Lives Matter banner that was approved to be up. The student who had spent months getting the banner approved said that the university didn’t update her on the case, and many didn’t know that the suspect was identified and reprimanded (or what actions were taken).

Yes, we understand why the administration can’t be completely forthcoming, but we do not feel good about the possibility of sharing a space with someone who doesn’t represent the inclusion and multiculturalism this school is known for. Keeping us in the loop of the situation is mandatory.

If it so happens that the university can’t be as transparent as we need them to be, then it’s up to us, the students, to take action. Nothing was more beautiful than knowing that dozens of students across all backgrounds reported the video to our deans immediately and showed up at the meeting in the Multicultural Student Affairs office to show their support and demand action. Democracy in action is always a lovely sight, especially when being spearheaded by students.

What we need now is solidarity: solidarity between people of color, the student population, and the university as a whole. We need to call out our “friends” when they say racist things and stop calling them friends. We need to demand more communication from our university in sensitive matters like these. By students performing their civic duty and administration doing their part, we can get past this.

This is a bad incident that doesn’t reflect well on us a community. But it doesn’t have to define us. When we think of incidents like these, schools like the University of Alabama may come to mind (they actually do have a history of racial incidents). Let’s try not to make the list.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

October 15, 2018

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.