Black & Brown Coalition Given President’s Service Award


Illustration by Grace Halio

The Black and Brown Coalition is still not satisfied with what NYU has done in terms of making NYU a more equitable university.

The Black and Brown Coalition will be recognized as one of the 2016 President’s Service Award recipients by President Hamilton and the NYU leadership team for the organization’s work fostering discussion on inequality at NYU and creating solutions to address these concerns within the university and abroad.

The President’s Service Awards acknowledge NYU organizations and students that have contributed to the university through their commendable leadership, community outreach and student-run initiatives.

Calling for Change

After nation-wide demonstrations resulting from the University of Missouri’s #ConcernedStudent1950 movement, NYU attempted to address issues of inclusion and diversity on campus through university-wide forums.

However, CAS junior and Black and Brown Coalition chair Devan Worth said NYU as an institution is very much responsible for the continuation of these issues of diversity and inequality.

“NYU is not some shielded paradise,” Worth said. “It is very much an active part of the world we live in, racism, sexism, homophobia and all. In more ways than one it acts as a microcosm for those sorts of things — a stage for them truly.”

Therefore, individual organizations like the coalition have taken steps to further this discussion of diversity on campus. CAS junior and committee chair of the Black and Brown Coalition Juan Calero Canaval said the Black Students Union had initially led the charge of demonstrations of solidarity for the #Mizzou movement on campus. However, he said the coalition was formed to further pursue equality on campus, which lead them to create a Demands List to outline major concerns regarding issues of inequality and diversity at NYU.

Addressing Inclusion on Campus

Through the Black and Brown Coalition’s list of demands the organization argues that the university needs to create designated spaces for students of color in future buildings, make attending NYU more affordable and remove questions regarding criminal history on NYU’s Common Application.

Calero Canaval said although the university has begun to address their demands, concerns surrounding inclusion and equity continue to be ignored. Calero Canaval also said he hopes student organizations like the Black and Brown Coalition will be able to secure a more prominent role at NYU in order to combat national discourse questioning the role of affirmative action
or “reparations.”

In addition, Worth said the Black and Brown Coalition is unique given its ability to create a platform for students of color to unite together and advocate for change.

Working with NYU to Advance Diversity Efforts

NYU has already increased staffing and funding for the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs to further support diversity and inclusion initiatives, and started dialogues through its individual schools for discussion surrounding inequality and injustice. The university also created an Ad Hoc Committee on diversity to work with student organizations to help implement the coalition’s demands.

However, Calero Canaval said the President’s Service Award does not validate the coalition’s efforts and hopes the university will do more to further their endeavor.

“The validation lies more in the work itself, see people who would otherwise likely not interact come together for the sake of social justice within NYU and in the ways NYU relates to the world,” Calero Canaval said.

Furthering the Movement

The organization will continue to advocate for greater equality throughout the university and hopes that the administration will refocus their objectives onto social justice. In addition, Worth hopes NYU will continue to respond to and act on the demands championed by the organization.

“If NYU was going to do anything for me it would be making that an experience that lasts beyond the first year, offering financial assistance to people who need it, as much as they need,” Worth said. “Answering to the demands list publicly, immediately and genuinely.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 21 print edition.  Email Christine Wang and Greta Chevance at [email protected].