Protest organizers pose list of 13 demands to Lynch
The Ford Hall 2015 sit-in has centered around a list of 13 demands sent to Interim President Lisa Lynch last Thursday. Protest leaders say that they will only end the sit-in when their demands are met. The sit-in began on Friday.
In an interview with the Justice, Christian Perry M.B.A./M.P.P. ’16 said that both undergraduate and graduate students contributed to brainstorming the list.
The email demands that the University “increase the percentage of full-time Black faculty and staff to 10% across ALL departments and schools,” prioritizing the Anthropology, History, Fine Arts, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Health: Science, Society and Policy, Sociology and Theatre departments, as well as the “Sciences,” the International Business School and the Heller School.
As of fall 2013, only one percent of University faculty were “Black/African American,” according to the University website. Perry noted that the group’s intention in calling on specific departments and schools is to say, “This is where the greatest demand is needed. ... It just says that we want you to know that you are not delivering on this inclusive space. You are not delivering on valuing black bodies. That is a call-out to them.”
In an email to the University community on Sunday night, Lynch wrote that all faculty search committees currently include a diversity representative and a chair who is trained to call out any implicit biases of the committee members.
The Concerned Students 2015 email also demands that the University both increase tenure track positions for black faculty across all departments and schools as well as develop educational pedagogies and curricula that teach racial awareness and inclusion in all departments and schools. In her email, Lynch pointed to the Provost Office’s teaching innovation awards as an example of how the University is incentivizing teaching about race and inequality: faculty who propose teaching methods or courses on these issues receive priority for the awards.
The students also demanded that all faculty and staff undergo yearly diversity and inclusion workshops, with optional workshops through the academic year, and that the Psychological Counseling Center employ more clinical staff of color “to provide culturally relevant support to students of all backgrounds.” Lynch wrote in her email that the Center for Teaching and Learning at Brandeis has a faculty study group called “Discussing Race and Inequality in our Classrooms.” That group will meet on Dec. 1, though faculty members are not required to attend the CTL study group.
Next, the demands include increased funding for black student organizations and programs and the appointment of a Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. Due to reduced rollover funds, funding for clubs across the board has been slashed this year, according to an Oct. 27 Justice article. One out of seven total funding requests by the Brandeis African Student Organization was denied this semester, and two out of 11 total requests from the Brandeis Black Students Organization were denied. A-Board wrote in a spreadsheet from then-Chair Alex Mitchell ’17 that they denied funding to BBSO’s proposed “Black is Educated” event because “You [BBSO] already have a lot of events this year, in fairness we have to reduce the amount we’re giving.” BASO’s study break event was also denied funding due to budget constraints.
Out of seven total funding requests, six were denied to the Women of Color Alliance. These were mostly requests related to a proposed Do It Yourself Beauty Convention, including asking funds for makeup artists, makeup and Sodexo catering. A-Board explained their decision by writing “Event appears superfluous. Given financial limitations, we cannot approve this in good conscience.”
The University has been developing the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion since last semester while researching how other universities and colleges have implemented similar positions, according to an August interview with the Justice from Lynch. On Friday, Lynch told demonstrators that the search process for the position has begun.
Next, the letter demands that the University “increase the admittance of Black students via the general admission process to 15% within both undergraduate and graduate schools.” Last year, only five percent of undergraduates and four percent of graduate students were African-American, according to a fact sheet released by the Office of Planning and Institutional Research. Of the 859 students in the Class of 2018, 42 first-time, first-year students self-identify as Black or African-American, according to data from OPIR. This is the lowest number of students of any ethnicity, besides students of two or more races (20), American Indian or Alaska Native students (1) or those who did not disclose their race (19). The Supreme Court ruled that quota systems in higher education — rules requiring universities to admit certain amounts or percentages of students from given ethnicities under affirmative action — was illegal in 1978’s Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.
In a phone interview with the Justice, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel stated that many case precedents regarding quotas were about public colleges and universities, yet private institutions receive some public funding, and the Brandeis admissions department does not want to institute a quota.
He said he, along with Vice President for Enrollment Carolina Figueroa, met with members of the Concerned Students 2015 negotiations team to discuss challenges to meeting the 15 percent goal after he left MELA during intermission Saturday night. According to Flagel, the administrators and negotiation team spoke briefly, but Flagel was told that the meeting would have to end shortly, as students were organizing a town hall. Student representatives did not respond to requests for comment on the meeting with Flagel by press time.
The letter also demands that the University establish an Office of Ombuds within Academic Services, which would be an intermediary between students and administrators who investigates accusations of abuses of power by faculty, staff and administration. Many universities and colleges have an office of ombuds, including Wellesley College, Hampshire College, the University of Washington and Boston University.
The letter to Lynch asks for the University to “increase minimum wage for all hourly paid university employees by 15%.” This is the demand that was read to Lynch on Sunday. However, the copy of the demands on the Ford Hall 2015 Facebook event instead lists the demand as increasing the hourly wage to $15 for all hourly-paid university employees. Then-University President Frederick Lawrence approved a $15.05 minimum wage for University staff as one of his last acts in office, according to a May 19 Justice article. However, this policy does not apply to student workers and does not apply to workers employed by outside contractors acting on the University’s campus.
The group also demands that the University “increase the number of professional development workshops specifically tailored for Black students” and that Flagel issue a public apology to Khadijah Lynch ’16. In January, Lynch tweeted that she had “no sympathy” for two New York Police Department officers who were killed. Daniel Mael ’15, who wrote for the conservative news website Truth Revolt, published the tweets, and Lynch received rape and death threats online.
At a rally of support for student demonstrators at the University of Missouri last week, Lynch said that Flagel did not meet with her during the controversy and said that “now when I come to school, every single day is agony.” Flagel had no official comment on the demand for an apology during his phone interview with the Justice.
Lastly, Concerned Students 2015 demanded that Interim President Lynch call “an emergency meeting” of the Board of Trustees within 24 hours of receiving the email, that the trustees meet all of the demands and write them into the contract for the next University President, and that all demands be met by the start of the Fall 2016 semester.
At a Heller School Town Hall on Monday, Interim Dean of the Heller School Marty Krauss stated that the Board of Trustees held a phone conference call with Interim President Lynch where they united in support of her choices for how to handle the student movement. The Board will hold its next regularly scheduled meeting in January.
The students who occupied Ford Hall for 11 days in January 1969, leading to this sit-in being called Ford Hall 2015, themselves issued a list of ten demands. The group in 1969 stated that their demands to the University were non-negotiable — though they did end their occupation before all demands were met. First on that list was the formation of an African Studies department, which was founded in April 1969.
—Hannah Wulkan and Emily Wishingrad contributed reporting.