Blackout Spurs Diversity Talks

Following recent cases of police brutality, NYU students and staff members are responding in numerous ways. To commemorate lives lost, NYU’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Task Force hosted the NYU Together: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion event on Friday.

Terrence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott and the names of other black and brown people who were killed by police remain prevalent in the minds of many — especially among the student of color population at NYU. Community members donned all black in commemoration of them during the NYU Together: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion event last Friday, as they grieved the lives lost at the hands of law enforcement.

This event, presented by the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Task Force, is part of a larger series of events during Inauguration Celebration Week. It focuses on NYU’s legacy of inclusion, issues around diversity and policies for improvement.

NYU Together also gives the NYU community an opportunity to convey its grievances and experiences to President Hamilton, Provost Fleming and the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force co-chairs Charlton Mcllwain and Gabrielle Starr.

During the event, President Hamilton highlighted NYU’s history of openness and accessibility, but mentioned that there is still a considerable distance to travel. He addressed the recent progress made, such as introducing the Bias Response Hotline, establishing a new Senior Diversity Officer position to be filled by February and creating an extensive climate survey to be administered shortly.

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CAS senior Sana Mayat spoke at the event and alluded to the ongoing violence against black and brown people.

“It’s not okay that what’s happening out there and how that impacts what’s going on in here goes unnoticed, that you have to wear all black and come out in hordes for anyone to finally look up and realize that you’re hurting,” Mayat said.

After hearing from other speakers, attendees were encouraged to ask questions. Stern sophomore Prabs Anant spoke about the microaggressions faced by students of color in classroom settings. She referenced a professor from her leadership class who only used the pronouns “he” or “him” and Western names when referring to someone in a leadership position and excluding pictures of leaders that are of color from presentations. 

“What are we doing about inclusiveness and diversity in classrooms where students are spending a good portion of their time?” Anant said.

Towards the end of the event, a member from the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Task Force sat at each table to gain feedback from the event and gather ideas to improve the work of the Force. These included discussions around administrator and staff outcomes, barriers and communications.

CAS senior, Task Force member and Vice President of the Black Student Union Angel Parker said the event was a great starting point, but more must be done on campus to promote diversity and inclusion among all NYU students.

“Having conversations about these issues is important, but there also needs to be implementation,” Parker said. “The notes that my Task Force colleagues and I took today will definitely have an impact on the work that we do.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 26 print edition. Email Fatima Mubasher at [email protected]

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