Council of Racial Ethnic Students examines racial climate
Members of MSU’s Council of Racial Ethnic Students, or CORES, are searching for ways to improve the racial climate for campus minorities after the Black Student Alliance’s recent meeting with administrators prompted by recent racial incidents on campus.
CORES is comprised of the North American Indigenous Student Organization, or NAISO, the Asian Pacific American Student Organization, or APASO, the Black Student Alliance, or BSA, and Culturas de las Razas Unidas, or CRU.
All four CORES groups were represented at the Oct. 28 meeting and CRU co-chair and social relations and policy senior Brittiany Romero said it was important for them to show support for the issues BSA’s members are facing.
Although Romero said she thinks administrators are concerned, she also said it’s difficult to know if the concern is genuine or comes from an interest in protecting MSU’s brand.
“(The incidents) make us more fearful of our place (on campus),” she said.
Romero said more can be done by administrators, including giving incoming students greater
exposure to CORES groups and reducing segregation in the residence halls as possible solutions.
“We’ve normalized (segregation in residence halls), and (now) we’re getting to the point where we’re saying that’s not OK and needs to be changed,” she said.
“The things I’ve heard the last few weeks are incredible to me. … And people, for whatever reason, are getting more angry. It’s getting much worse.”
Director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives Paulette Granberry Russell declined comment, because the administration is in the process of responding to the 22 demands BSA presented to administrators at the meeting.
At the meeting, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said the university needs to improve minority students’ graduation rates and plans to address that issue, among other concerns, in the future.
Neither BSA President Mario Lemons or Interim Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Denise Maybank could not be reached for comment Monday.
As someone living off-campus who does not identify as a racial minority, chemical engineering senior Jessica Ferko said it’s been hard for her to fully understand the impact of the incidents.
“I’m of course shocked and outraged,” she said.
“Sometimes you forget that racism is still an issue.”
NAISO co-chair and French senior Sean Patrick said members of his group have received racially intimidating and demeaning messages this semester as well, and he hopes the work of the CORES groups can create change.
“I would say (the climate is) tense,” Patrick said.
“We know the administration doesn’t have much intent to address the issues we’re presenting. They believe we’re being oversensitive. … And frankly it’s upsetting to just about all of us.”
APASO co-president and supply chain management junior Steve Tzeng said the creation of a freestanding multicultural center — one of the demands listed by the BSA — would help expose MSU students to other cultures.
The current multicultural center is located in a room in the basement of the Union and many students aren’t aware of its existence or purpose, he said.
Describing the current racial climate on campus as “cautious,” Tzeng said remaining unified becomes increasingly important when one group feels another CORES group is attacked.
“The greatest threat we have to equality is (a lack of) awareness,” he said.
“We all know we have to stand together and support each other to make a big difference on campus.”