IWU’s poor BLM response reveals a larger issue

By Editorial Board Sep11,2020
Photo Courtesy of: Clip Art

In light of all that is going on in the world right now, the Argus would like to affirm that we fully believe and support the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black and other POC students on our campus. 

We also must condemn the administration for their lack of leadership and failure to assert that Black lives matter. 

After the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, President Nugent sent out an offical statement on June 1, eight days after the incident.

 It was clear that the statement came only due to pressure from the IWU community. 

The beginning of the email expressed that within the Bloomington-Normal community “we experienced both peaceful and productive protests, and unfortunate incidents of looting and violence.” 

Instead of making a statement regarding the horrific reality of police brutality, the administration undermined the entire point by drawing condemnation on the protests rather than the murder that incited them. 

The administration preaches of “the commitment that drives our university is so important,” but fails to affirm that Black lives do in fact matter. 

The email uses vague language about diversity and justice, but never specifies for whom. 

They reduce George Floyd’s murder to his death and never use the word Black or the term police brutality when talking about injustice.  

As the email moves away from ambiguous hints towards unrest, it reminds students of Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to the University in the 1960s.

The fact that the most recent example that can be used to connect IWU to the movement against racial injustice is from over 50 years ago should be a sign to the administration that they’re not doing enough.

 There’s a certain irony to the message the email leans on— the quote “appalling silence and indifference” could easily be applied to the administration’s response. 

The email quoted Dr. King, but failed to see the insensitivity of using such an example. 

Using a past Black voice instead of empowering current Black voices exemplifies just how out of touch the administration is in terms of the Black Lives Matter movement.

 The usage of the quotes by Dr. King also puts IWU at the center of the already ambiguous message. 

It’s almost like the University is saying: “Hey, remember when we hosted Dr. King? Haven’t we done enough? It’s like a Get out of Racism free card, right?”

Students who have been “transformed by their IWU experience to not be silent, to not be indifferent,” are encouraged to speak out against the injustices they’re seeing— unless, of course, those injustices are that of the administration’s. 

The most telling part of the email is what they don’t say rather than what they do. How can we “act together” when the email gives no answers as to what actions they plan to take? 

Universities cannot care for their Black students if they can’t even say the word Black. 

We expected more from our university than “appalling silence and indifference.” 

In condemning the University’s past actions, we urge the administration to consider the harm they’re actively participating in by refusing to take a clear stance and put in the necessary work towards accountability— especially if they’re going to boast about a diverse student body every year. 

Related Post