Following a statement on June 2 to all students regarding nationwide protests and looting in the wake of the death of George Floyd, university president Stephen Standifird released an apology on Friday afternoon.
After a wave of criticism over the first statement, the new president apologized for the statement that he believed was weak, insensitive and not a reflection of his “personal values and beliefs.” In addition, he said he will be taking steps to create a more inclusive environment on Bradley’s campus.
Friday’s apology contained three immediate steps regarding Bradley’s diversity, including structural upgrades to the Garrett Center, home to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. This includes technological enhancements, better lighting and “other improvements to the physical spaces”, which are expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.
In his June 2 statement, Standifird asked students to embrace diversity and put forth empathy, understanding, tolerance, kindness and not tolerate violence “based on perceived differences.”
“The vandalism and violence that have taken place in our community over the past few days are an outcry against the systemic racism that continues to plague our country,” the statement read. “At a time when we should be together to fight against a global pandemic, we are fighting each other instead.”
Students–including the Bradley chapter of the NAACP, Black Student Alliance, the National Pan-Hellenic Council–and alumni voiced their opinions about the statement, primarily through Facebook and Twitter, some tagging #BlackAtBradleyU.
“At a time where Black Americans are angry, hurt and mourning we are asking for solidarity and respect. My university has failed to do this,” senior sociology major Jo Berry tweeted. “After students impatiently waited for the university to finally release a statement… this is what we get?! #BlackAtBradleyU”
At a time where Black Americans are angry, hurt and mourning we are asking for solidarity and respect. My university has failed to do this. After students impatiently waited for the university to finally release a statement… this is what we get?!#BlackAtBradleyU pic.twitter.com/SP6fQIbadn— Jo (@JosiahhBerry) June 2, 2020
“Stand up for your students, potential students and alumni,” Nikki Wilder, a 2015 Bradley alumna, commented on Facebook.
“I’d like to see that Bradley is standing with the Black Lives Matter movement,” Kitrina Baumgartner, a 2015 alumna, said on Facebook.
Standifird said he will also create a Racial Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group headed by graduate-alumnus, Glenn Ross, and a current student. Bradley will also partner with Peoria Public Schools, including Quest Charter Academy, offering six need-based, full-tuition scholarships annually.
An update on these steps will be provided by June 30, according to Standifird.