WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — After leaders of black students organizations said the initial statement from Midwestern State University administration about the international protests following the death of George Floyd was “vague and safe”, president Suzanne Shipley has issued a new response Wednesday night to address concern from students.
Leaders from the Black Student Union, MSU chapter of NAACP, Men of Color Alliance, Caribbean Student Organization and the Black STAND Council met virtually on with administrators on June 3 to discuss their concerns and asked how officials would go about making students feel safe and ensure racial equality.
“Our students reiterated the points made in their response to my own June 1 statement, which they found vague and safe,” Shipley stated. “Instead of admitting honestly that our very diverse student body can be both a point of pride and a potential source of tension, miscommunication and conflict, my message avoided such topics. Their comments reaffirmed my belief that institutions of higher education can play a leading role in either perpetuating or changing systemic problems in society.”
The students asked for the president of the university to be more direct when condemning hate speech that targets marginalized groups at MSU.
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“They asked if I had watched videos of Black victims being killed and suggested how to find the courage to do so,” Shipley stated. “They spoke of the fear of the COVID pandemic now being magnified by their fear of going out in public as young Black Americans. They asked whether we at MSU would “have their backs” when they returned, whether they could ever feel safe again, here on this campus or elsewhere. They asked that the MSU community replace our feelings of sympathy with empathy and action in order to stand with them and for racial equality.”
Shipley stated she will begin to assemble a working group made up of Black students, faculty, staff and regents of color to create new goals to be added to our current Strategic Plan to steadily increase percentages of employees of color in a range of employment categories.
In the statement, Shipley also addressed the concern of diversity among the campus community. Training modules available for students, faculty and staff are available through Student Affairs and stated officials will work to expand education around diversity and its challenges to a campus community in the Fall 2020 semester.
“I greatly appreciated the thoughtfulness with which our Black student leaders presented their opinions and statements, especially at a time of incredible stress, exhaustion, and grief for our entire Black community,” Shipley stated. “We do indeed stand with our students. If change is our choice at MSU Texas, then our actions in the coming weeks and years must reflect that commitment.”