SIUC Students Use Open Forum To Call Out Administration

May 2, 2016

Students at SIU-Carbondale peacefully expressed their concerns about racism and diversity issues during an open forum Monday afternoon on campus.

Donald Chamberlain helped organize the forum. He told a gathering of over 100 students, faculty, staff and community members that the school's administration must be more responsive.

"It's not ok for you to ignore racism on this campus and refuse to move past the dialog stage. It's not ok for you not to take into account your students' issues."

Jonathan Flowers - who will become vice president of graduate student affairs for the Graduate and Professional Student Council - says there has been too much dialog. He says now it's time for action from the administration.

"By defining diversity and inclusive excellence, convening the Affirmative Action Committee, having a diversity plan, presenting an affirmative action plan."

Another student, named Ayla, said she's a legacy scholar. But, Ayla told the gathering the administration's non-reaction to racially-motivated incidents has made her regret her decision to come to the school that her parents attended.

"I'm letting you know that as someone who has given you every single second of my life and dedication, I always knew I would go here, I am entirely disappointed by you and everything you've done."

The students often spoke directly to administrators, some of whom were watching outside Faner Hall during the two-hour open forum.

SIUC spokesperson Rae Goldsmith says the administration is listening to the students, and some definitive steps are coming.

"We know that there's more listening that needs to happen. But, there are some steps we can take immediately as a community. It's going to take everybody. It's not just an administrative issue. We need our faculty, we need our leadership team, we need our students to be involved in solving some of the issues that are being identified."

Goldsmith says Chancellor Brad Colwell will roll out initiatives Tuesday to address some of the students' concerns.

The peaceful forum was disrupted slightly when a student holding a Donald Trump sign showed up. But, the protesters told the gathering to ignore the unwelcomed visitor and went on with their message. Some of the protesters met with the Trump supporter after the forum to talk about their differences.