The University is diverse, but that alone doesn’t make campus a cohesive place, four black campus leaders said during a panel discussion last night.
“Do we know each other?” said panelist and LSA junior Gerloni Cotton. “What are we doing with this so-called diversity here? It doesn’t matter if our (University) president uses the word 55 times in her speech if she isn’t talking about how we’re interacting with each other.”
Cotton was part of a forum, “The State of Black America,” sponsored by Michigan Student Assembly’s Minority Affairs Commission. MSA Rep. Gibran Baydoun, the LSA sophomore who moderated and helped organize the event, said the event was held in response to racist comments posted on Craigslist last month.
The post said blacks were “invading” the popular campus bar Scorekeepers and expressed disgust at the idea of relationships between black men and white women. Baydoun said the panel resulted from MSA’s “outrage” at the blatant racism in the post.
“It was a rant,” said LSA senior James Logan, president of Intellectual Minds Making A Difference, a student group that tutors students from the Detroit Public Schools.
Other panelists included John Matlock, associate vice provost and director of the Office of Academic Multicultural Affairs and William Collins, minority affairs director for the Comprehensive Studies Program
The panelists addressed a variety of topics, but spoke at length about the extent of the diversity at the University.
“Do we have diversity? Yes,” said Collins, “Are we satisfied? No.”
Collins said the number of minority students at the University has skyrocketed since he was in college in the 1970s.
“When I was a student here, there were about 50 African American students here,” he said, “Mr. Matlock just mentioned that there are now 50 black student organizations.”
Still, Collins said, there needs to be more interaction between the different multicultural groups on campus. He suggested that University students may be able to do that better than University administrators
“When I’m using that phrase ‘role model,’ I’m talking about you, not me,” Collins said.