During the height of the Black Lives Matter protests over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police this summer, Bradley made promises regarding inclusivity and equality. This included remodeling the Romeo B. Garrett Cultural Center and offering a scholarship to Peoria area youth in District 150.
While Bradley has made good on its aforementioned promises, it needs to do more to promote inclusivity on campus.
Black History Month is about celebrating and uplifting Black voices, past and present. Northwestern, Drake, Purdue and Indiana State have taken the time to feature Black alumni and students on their social media, highlighting their achievements and importance to their respective campuses. Many of these universities have also promoted Black businesses and campus organizations.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Athletic Department have been very active on their social media platforms, but in order to truly spread awareness, the university needs to make more of an effort to reach the entire campus.
Bradley has done little to promote Black History Month other than retweet a couple of posts from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. With many significant Black alumni and staff, including astronaut Robert Lawrence, NBA basketball player Hersey Hawkins and former professor Barbara Penelton, to name a few, it shouldn’t be hard to showcase examples of Black excellence here at Bradley.
This feeling of voicelessness for Black students is one of the many issues that frustrated students this summer. The Twitter hashtag #BlackatBradleyU brings up many examples of microaggressions and flat-out racism that students of color have endured here at Bradley.
In some instances, Black students felt as though they were snubbed by the university administration, who had not taken significant action to ensure they were being treated fairly.
In order for a cultural shift to occur, Bradley needs to prioritize inclusivity immediately and take clear action to promote it. It’s not just making changes once the university has been called out, but being consistent in emphasizing acceptance year-round.
Necessary steps include bringing diverse employees into the academic staff and police force. Bradley promotes diversity with 30 percent of the current freshman class are students of color; the staff and faculty here should reflect that.
The changes Bradley has made so far this year are good, but campus is far from being a haven of equality and inclusivity. You can remodel a building with ease, but remodeling a campus culture and attitude takes much more effort.