A Tangled Web in Higher Ed (Leading In Color - Season 3, Episode 33)
Play • 1 hr 1 min

In this episode, Sarah interviews UR Black Student Coalition leaders Shira Greer and Katiana Issac. 

Formed in March 2021 in order to advocate for the wellbeing of Black students at UR, the Coalition is an informal collective comprised of Black students who are in support of the demands listed in the Protect Our Web statement and its addendum. The BSC arose in response to President Crutcher’s February 25, 2021 statement on behalf of the university and the Board of Trustees stating that they intended to keep the name of Ryland Hall (named after enslaver Robert Ryland), and rename Freeman Hall to Mitchell-Freeman Hall (named after Mitchell, a former enslaved person who fought segregation, and Douglas Southall Freeman, a segregationist and eugenicist). While these building names were the catalyst for the BSC’s formation, ultimately the group seeks material changes to better the experiences of Black students on campus.

Students are advocating for the following demands, and are committed to seeing them met: 

  1. Remove the names of Robert Ryland and Douglas Southall Freeman from Ryland Hall and Mitchell-Freeman Hall.
  2. Expand academic accommodations for all students in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

*This demand has been partially met by a UR Faculty Senate motion to allow students to take one course on a Credit/No Credit basis for the spring 2021 semester.

  1. Subsidize off-campus mental health services for Black students.
  2. Abandon the plan to name the terrace of the new Humanities Commons after an enslaved person or persons.
  3. Create an endowed chair for the Africana Studies program and begin hiring for the position in the fall of 2021.
  4. Expand the Multicultural Space and house The Space on its own in a standalone building.

Shira and Katiana talk about their reason for choosing & staying at UR, how the coalition formed, how these demands evolved, and what is coming next for the Protect Our Web movement during our interview. I think it is a really powerful insight into how movements grow from grassroots to global -- as well as revealing on the insidiousness of supremacy in all of our institutions. 

Learn more about how to support the #ProtectOurWeb movement HERE

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