opinion

COLUMN: IU fails to combat discrimination



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The discrimination students of color experience at IU has not sufficiently improved in recent decades. People might not be walking around wearing Ku Klux Klan attire, but racism is still alive and well on IU’s campus. 

Last October, there was a deadly shooting at an off-campus Halloween party hosted by Kappa Alpha Psi, which is one of the nine historically black fraternities. Although it was not on campus, the majority of people at the party were black IU students. 

In response, IU administrators implemented several resources for effected students including free Counseling and Psychological Services services and walk-in counseling at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. 

The university responded well to this devastating situation. 

Having a swift response in situations regarding marginalized minority students should not only occur during times of crisis, though. Focusing on the needs of minority populations overwhelmingly during traumatic times but minimally on a day to day basis is unacceptable and perpetuates a divisive university. 

Although there are resources throughout campus, IU is not doing enough to fully combat the problem. 

Let’s be honest, IU is a predominantly white institution in Bloomington, which is in an area that has an unfortunately dense history of racism. It is just 30 minutes away from arguably one of the most racist towns in Indiana: Martinsville

On Dec. 26, 1968, the Black Market, a shop that sold books, clothing, records and artwork of Africans and African-Americans, was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. 

People often say, “history repeats itself,” but this history is not repetitive. Discrimination at IU has barely had the chance to become history, because it has been a never-ending cycle.

Just earlier this month, black IU junior Henok Tesfay was walking down Third Street when a group of white students flicked him off.

Tesfay said when he acknowledged them they proceeded to call him the n-word.

Many students have reported hearing “white power” chanted at parties.

From subtle to blatant, racism is prevalent on IU’s campus.

Former IU student Pamela Wilhoite said she had to withdraw because racism and discrimination had such a stark impact on her mental health and overall well being. 

Wilhoite was studying to receive a master of social work at the IU School of Social Work, but said that after continuous discrimination, stereotyping and microaggressions she withdrew last October.

During a cognitive behavioral therapy lab, a professor said she sounded like a “black mom.”

After the situation, Wilhoite said she believes she did not receive proper resources and support to attempt to work through these troubling words and actions. 

The stressful, non-inclusive environment caused Wilhoite’s mental health to deteriorate.

Wilhoite believes this comes down to a huge lack of support. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. She talked to other students of color who finished the program, and they had the same experience.

“It’s just not a welcoming or supportive environment," she said. "Grad program or not,”  

Discrimination against students of color is too prevalent on this campus to continue to be swept under the rug. 

There are resources such as a bias incident reporting, through the Dean of Students: Division of Student Affairs, where students are able to make a report based on an incident where an individual is targeted in a discriminatory way. 

Additionally, the Student Advocates Office works to "assist students in resolving personal and academic problems so that they may maintain progress toward earning a degree."

These are good resources for students, but it is difficult to believe the university is doing enough when discrimination at IU is still so prevalent. 

There should be additional resources implemented.

Maybe students who discriminate against blacks could be required to attend cultural awareness classes or take part in community service toward an organization benefiting people of color. 

There is so much that could be done.

This will only happen when there is a real sense of urgency from the university on the fight against racism and discrimination, specifically against people of color. 

If this issue is not taken seriously soon, the racial climate of IU will worsen and tensions will struggle to ever be mended. 

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