If UM wants to be on the right side of history, administration should start listening to Black students

The death of the unarmed George Floyd in May 2020 is causing an awakening all over the country. Not only are the masses uncovering the inequalities within the police and prison systems, but they are tackling other forms of institutional discrepancies and injustices.

Whether it’s Black women facing discrimination within the medical system or Black students experiencing racial microaggressions in predominantly white spaces, important conversations are being held to confront and hopefully alleviate these issues.

Universities, like our own, all have a role they can play in the quest to support Black and minority communities. With the social and economic presence that the University of Miami has, they have the opportunity to not only listen to the needs of Black folks but to act on them.

Following in the revolutionary footsteps of the members of the new United Black Students in 1968, present Black student leaders across organizations came together to draft up a letter of requests and recommendations to the university administration and Board of Trustees on how to better support Black students, faculty and other minority communities.

During this time of immense Black death and trauma, Black students shouldn’t have to go through the labor of theorizing justice for themselves and other counterparts. It is a bittersweet process, but we thank them for crafting an outline of specific and relevant demands that can surely yield great results.

Student leaders outlined 11 demands that target diversity committees, sensitivity programs, hiring plans, relations between UMPD, study abroad programs, scholarships and more. The letter offers a comprehensive look at the ways the university falls short but also how they can work to become a leading community presence.

Some of the most recommended ways universities can help diversity efforts are mentioned in this letter. This includes the request for the university to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion center, to have sensitivity training for UMPD and to administer a “mandatory university-wide diversity, social justice and cultural sensitivity training program.”

A notable request that we support and vehemently call for is the request for “a formal, multi-year hiring, admittance and diversity strategic plan.” It is no secret that the Black community on UM’s campus is quite small. Black students not only need to see more of themselves walking around on campus, but they need to see themselves in the classroom and in different offices.

We also support the request of the university doing more to support Black communities in the Greater Miami area. The university not only needs to create outreach programs in the communities of Little Haiti, Overtown and especially, South Miami, but they need to recruit students from these areas to attend UM.

As a prominent university in Miami, the school needs to do more to establish itself as more than just a symbol of elitism. Because we are a school with a costly price tag, one of the more obvious ways to help Black students along their path to graduation is to create more grants and scholarships to alleviate students’ financial burdens. These are all tangible and important ways for UM to use the enormous amount of resources and breadth of wealth available to cause change.

The unfortunate deaths of Black people have brought us to the time of reckoning. Don’t let the trauma and labor of Black and minority folks be in vain.

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