U of Texas Panel Suggests Ways to Soothe Racial Tensions - Higher Education

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U of Texas Panel Suggests Ways to Soothe Racial Tensions

by Black Issues


U of Texas Panel Suggests Ways to Soothe Racial Tensions

HOUSTON
A University of Texas panel seeking to end racial tensions on campus has recommended the university require sensitivity training for campus police and hire an administrator to promote campus diversity.
The 15-member task force, made up of students, faculty and staff, was appointed by UT President Larry Faulkner last March to identify solutions after minority students complained about numerous racial incidents on campus.
In its 37-page report released recently, the panel suggested naming a vice president for diversity and equity whose role would be to promote and enhance diversity and to develop a plan to recruit and retain minority students, faculty and staff. It also suggested diversity training for campus police and a review of the department’s racial profiling policy. Another recommendation was to develop required courses on a non-U.S. culture or courses on gender, race and class issues.
“We looked at a lot of statistics and talked to a lot of people and found a fundamental problem is people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds don’t understand each other,” said Dr. Darlene Grant, task force chairwoman and associate dean of graduate students. “Rather than just providing stopgap measures when issues arise, we hope to integrate racial respect and fairness throughout the UT community.”
The report calls for UT to better articulate its commitment to diversity and to address broad issues to change campus culture, Grant said in the Houston Chronicle.
The report will go to Faulkner, who said he will seek additional comment for 45 days, then develop a specific plan.
Grant said the incidents that prompted the report were not isolated. They included the egging of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on the national holiday; fraternity parties at which members wore black paint on their faces and mocked Black images and stereotypes; and alleged racial profiling by a UT police officer who asked a Black student to show his identification in the student union.
UT Police Chief Jeffrey Van Slyke said an internal investigation determined the racial profiling allegations were unfounded. He also said the department already provides diversity training as required by the state as well as supplemental internal training.  
— Associated Press



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