Danita Brown Young

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Student group presents ‘diversity demands’ to U of M officials

‘Whose Diversity?’ resists cooptation, wants more than ‘sprinkling a few faces of color in catalogues’
 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

The issue of diversity is ever-present at the University of Minnesota. However, this may be the only thing both top administrators and a diverse group of students can easily agree upon. “We all want to make the university a better place, and we are glad that they are raising these issues,” declares U of M Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young when asked about an independent student group calling itself “Whose Diversity?”

The “Whose Diversity?” collective is a diverse group of both undergraduate and graduate students “from underrepresented and marginalized communities.” They presented a list of “diversity demands” to top school officials in late April, including Brown Young, President Eric Kaler, and Vice President for Equity and Diversity Katrice Albert that included “substantive engagement,” a high priority on recruiting, retaining and graduating students of color, and a “comprehensive educational experience for all students,” according to the document. “We decided as a collective that we didn’t want to [be] backed by the university and be formally recognized as a student group or student organization,” said Rahsaan Mahadeo. “We’ve seen examples of how student groups have become co-opted by the university and made to adhere to their demands, and we didn’t want to do that.”

Both Albert and Brown Young told the MSR in separate interviews that efforts to meet with “Whose Diversity?” leaders have been unsuccessful. Continue Reading →

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Black male students feel targeted by U of M crime alert

School officials grapple with creating a “safe for all” campus
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Everyone at the University of Minnesota — students, faculty, staff and administrators — are concerned about campus safety after a recent “crime wave” of robberies and assaults raised campus-wide alarm. However, many Black students and other students of color are now equally concerned about how they are being seen around campus. After an attempted robbery at a campus dorm in November, campus police misidentified an innocent Black student as a suspect. A letter was sent in December to University President Eric Kaler and University Services Vice-President Pamela Wheelock, whose office supervises campus law enforcement, from several Black organizations including the Black Student Union, the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and the Black Men’s Forum, expressing their concerns about the use of racial descriptions in crime alerts. “We sent this letter,” explained Black Student Union President Amber Jones, “in response to the stories, the hurt and the pain our community was crying about. Continue Reading →

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U of M campus assaults prompt racial profiling

Student drinking, ‘rampant’ mental heath issues also top concerns of Student Affairs
 
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Conclusion of a two-part story

 

A series of criminal attacks on and around the University of Minnesota main campus during the summer and fall has created both anxiety and concern about public safety of both students and staff. These attacks also have concerned many Black students, especially males who believe that they are now racially profiled due to descriptions given to police by the unfortunate victims.

“I’ve been listening to students [of color] who say they have been racially profiled,” said U of M Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young during a recent MSR interview. “Or they feel that people are looking at them differently because they are a male of color, and that the descriptions constantly say, ‘Black male.’

“The problem is this: Most of the perpetrators of the crimes have been people of color,” continued Young, who, in recent meetings with top school administrators and law enforcement officials, has been advising against using simple descriptors in campus crime alerts. “They could be Dominican or Cuban or Ethiopian,” explained the dean. “We do need to try to move away from those descriptors and just focus on crime.”

She added that lately campus police have focused more “on the behavior versus the race. Continue Reading →

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UROC: a North Minneapolis ‘gateway’ to U of M education

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Dr. Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota, admits that he is aware of the Black community’s longtime skepticism toward the state’s land-grant university, an often strained relationship that did not improve when the university dropped the General College and made its “world-class” declaration in the late 1990s. A few years later, the opening of the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, otherwise known as UROC, on the city’s North Side in 2009 heightened suspicions among many Blacks. As a result, the MSR during a 30-minute interview in his Morrill Hall office asked President Kaler to speak to our readers on the school’s overall commitment to diversity. “We didn’t have a trusting relationship with the community,” said Kaler, who was named president in July 2011, regarding UROC. “There was a concern that we were going to work on the community rather than work with the community or actually work for the community.”

Kaler offered reassurance that the university is fully committed to diversity, citing as examples the hiring this year of Dr. Katrice Albert as diversity and equity vice president and Danita Brown Young as dean of students. Continue Reading →

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