On August 12, students from the College of Education, the African Diaspora Student Advocacy Coalition and the Student Government Association sent three letters to Georgia State University President Mark Becker, Provost Wendy Hensel and the Georgia State administration. Each letter states how the university should announce its standing with the Black community.
College of Education Letter
Noah Nelson and Jai Mills, Georgia State students who signed the letter, briefly explained their reasons for writing the letter in regards to making changes that pertain to the Black community.
They provided a list of requests to Georgia State. This list demands a meeting with Paul Alberto, the dean of the College of Education, to elaborate on the importance of the Black community.
“It is imperative that we have this discussion to not only offer solutions but to further elaborate on the importance of this moment and [the] impact it is having on our community,” the letter states.
The list goes on to demand mandatory orientations for students who are in graduate school programs. They are asking for town hall meetings, an increase in Crime Center Support, changes in the Advocacy organization and more.
They also ask to disarm the Georgia State University Police Department to increase the safety of Black students.
They feel that “policing” the university is not safe for Black students because they are an easy target and policing is now a “potential act of violence” towards Black people.
The students also demand that Georgia State hire more Black professors trained in critical pedagogy, also known as critical teaching.
They express how, although Georgia State is a diverse university, there isn’t much diversity shown in the faculty department. They also request that all professors be required to take culturally responsive courses twice a year.
“We need our faculty to provide high-level learning without blissful ignorance of race, gender, sexuality, religion and more,” the letter states. “The perpetuation of this allows for injustices and [racism] to exist. This will replace the implicit bias training that has proven to be ineffective over time.”
The letter elaborates more on promoting diversity, with a particular focus on the liberatory potential of education, a major goal of critical pedagogy.
“This is a crucial time and it is important that we act soundly. Injustice has never rested, and neither should we in our quest for equity and liberation,” the letter states. “It is critical in this time that actions are taken and we must continue to fight in our quest for liberation.”
Equity and Justice Letter from ADSAC
The African Diaspora Student Advocacy Coalition is an organization at Georgia State that focuses on empowering people of African descent.
ADSAC sent the letter asking for reassurance that Georgia State is fully on board with the Black community, despite the institution’s history with racism.
ADSAC urged Becker and Hensel to address the following:
- Make a public apology and promise that the university will no longer play a part in social injustice
- Become and remain an equitable university
- Include racial justice as a primary goal of the Task Force for Racial Equity.
- Provide adequate assistance, resources and remuneration for the task force.
- Similar to the concerns of COE, ADSAC also wants to revise policing and security.
- End Georgia State’s partnership with GILEE
- Reallocate GSUPD funding to social services programs, safety curriculum and security infrastructures
- Improve curriculum, culture and systems designed to prevent and end harassment and racial violence.
ADSAC asked university officials to respond back with answers to their calls of action by Friday, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m.
SGA Letter to Administration
SGA University-Wide President Kaelen Thomas declares SGA’s solidarity with ADSAC and their mission to take a stand with the Black community in the letter.
“We recognize the various challenges that trouble our institution and the many changes needed at [Georgia State] and therefore support the coalition advocating for itself rather than solely through SGA,” Kaelen said in the letter on behalf of himself and SGA. “SGA will operate as a liaison if needed and report on the coalition’s behalf.”
They recommend the administration reach out to ADSAC to correspond with their plans for equity of African Americans at Georgia State.
On Aug. 18, SGA held a special session where the three letters were briefly mentioned.
As ADSAC waited for a response from President Becker and the administration, the coalition encouraged students to share their support on the presented calls to action.
ADSAC advised supporters to email President Becker and Provost Hensel with the subject stating, “I support ADSAC.”
Georgia State’s administration responded to the coalition before the presented deadline.
Editor’s note: The article incorrectly stated that the administration had not yet responded to the letters by ADSAC’s Friday, Aug. 28 deadline. However, the administration did respond to the letters in time and the article has been updated to reflect this. Updated at 6:45 p.m. on 9/1/2020.”