State Sen. Art Haywood and African-American Pennsylvania college students are scheduled to meet with Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) presidents to discuss racial discrimination and harassment on college campuses.
The virtual campus setting includes Shippensburg University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg University and Bloomsburg University.
“African-American students have six demands, and we demand action,” Haywood said. “It’s important to have this conversation now because conditions of racial harassment, racial slurs and isolation continue on some of the campuses. Each week, I receive new information on incidents of stereotyping, harassment, white supremacist symbols and racist Zoom bombings on college campuses,” added Haywood.
The students are also demanding the colleges hire more faculty and staff of color.
Shippensburg student Naschia N. Brice-Blackwell, a criminal justice major, is asking for understanding. “My ideal outcome is that we can come to an understanding of making our students of color feel safe.”
President Laurie A. Carter, at Shippensburg University, has devoted her career to diversity work and inclusion. “At Shippensburg University, we are doing the work. The work is not completed, and we will not stop until we believe that we are able to handle situations in a way that helps our students feel more comfortable with it.”
Carter wants every student to feel like they have a place at Shippensburg.
During a private conference call, Carter confirmed that two students from Shippensburg would attend. The virtual meetings will take place from through Feb. 11. Monday, Senator Haywood met with Carter. Tuesday he plans to meet with President Michael A. Driscoll of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, the senator will meet with President Kenneth Long, MBA of East Stroudsburg University. On Thursday, he plans to meet with President Bashar W. Hanna, Ph.D. of Bloomsburg University, followed by a meeting with Dr. Pearson, the PASSHE vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, and chief diversity officers to recap these events.
In support of students facing racial and social injustice, Cheyney University is showing its support to surrounding Pennsylvania colleges. Cheyney University President Aaron A. Walton said Cheyney has a legacy to celebrate those who have paved the way and fought for justice. On Feb. 25, Cheyney University will celebrate its 184-year anniversary.
“We want to be inclusive of celebrating various audiences and let them know that this is not restricted to one or two things, but this is holistic,” Walton said.
After meeting with Carter, Haywood said it was an important first step. “We had a constructive conversation, but this is only the beginning.”