Louisville-area university presidents pledge to do better for their African-American students Friday, Jun 5 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

Louisville-area university presidents co-signed a letter to their students and community members on June 3, addressing the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

“We, as leaders of higher education institutions in greater Louisville and Kentuckiana, are aware both of the promise of higher education as a transformative force in society, and of the problematic history of these very institutions in perpetuating racial inequity,” the presidents said in the letter.

They went on to pledge to five actions that they could take as leaders of their institutions:

  1. “We pledge to educate ourselves and our own college and university communities to recognize and work against structural racism.
  2. We pledge to work together to improve access to higher education for our African-American and other students of color.
  3. We pledge to create pathways for African-American and other students of color to meaningful and high-demand jobs and careers and acknowledge the need for more Black professionals in healthcare and education and engineering and law as in many other spheres.
  4. We pledge to engage fully and meaningfully in the life of West Louisville.
  5. With our institutional privileges of knowledge, reach, resources, legacy, and more, we pledge to consistently demonstrate our commitment to the objective fact that Black Lives Matter.”

The eight university presidents that signed the letter were University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi, Bellarmine University President Susan Donovan, Ivy Tech President Travis Haire, Jefferson Community and Technical College President Ty Handy, Sullivan University President Jay Marr,  Spalding University President Tori McClure, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary President Alton Pollard III, and Indiana University President Ray Wallace.

The same day the letter was sent out, Bendapudi joined some of the other university leaders at a protest in downtown Louisville to stand in solidarity with the protesters.

Photo by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L’s Black Student Union addresses demands in letter to university officials Tuesday, Jun 2 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

The University of Louisville’s Black Student Union released a statement on May 31 calling for U of L and the University of Louisville Police Department to discontinue its partnership with the Louisville Metro Police Department. This comes after days of protests in Louisville for the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“The relationship between ULPD and LMPD was described as ‘fruitful,’ and while that may be the case in regard to ‘safeguarding the assets of the university’–that is not the case when it comes to students, faculty and staff,” BSU President Maliya Homer said. “Nothing about being in closer proximity to state sanctioned violence makes us any safer.”

ULPD Police Chief Gary Lewis said the relationship between the two departments has gone back as far as the 1970s.

“As the years have gone by, the personnel strength of ULPD has grown which has enhanced the ability to handle all law enforcement related duties on our campuses,” Lewis said.

One of the resources Lewis said the partnership with  LMPD provides is the Real Time Crime Center, or RTCC. “Information gathered can be shared with law enforcement agencies across all of Jefferson County, to include ULPD,” Lewis said.

The student union is also calling for the university to rename the Overseer’s Honor’s House. Homer told the Cardinal she called for the renaming because the word “overseer” was once used as a term to refer to the middleman in plantation hierarchy.

U of L Director of Communications John Karman said the word is being removed from the building’s name.

“The University changed the name of its Board of Overseers last year to the President’s Council for the same reason,” Karman said. “Overseers is being removed from the Honors House name.”

“We’re demanding that the university respond with the same swiftness that they protected the ‘Free Speech Zone’ for people not affiliated with the university to taunt and harass students, staff and faculty for hours on end,” Homer said.

U of L has yet to respond to the BSU’s demands; however, Karman said the university and ULPD are aware of the BSU’s demands and are currently reviewing them.

“We will not settle for a flippant response filled with superfluous excuses and platitudes–we deserve so much more than that. Breonna deserves so much more than that,” Homer said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L President Neeli Bendapudi: “Our Cardinal Family of color needs your help. Our society needs your help.” Monday, Jun 1 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

President Neeli Bendapudi announced in an email on May 29 the actions the University of Louisville plans to take after the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“At the University of Louisville, Diversity and Inclusion is one of our core Cardinal Principles,” Bendapudi said.

“This university strives to be a home and safe haven for our students, faculty and staff of color just as we strive to do this for all of the many rich and diverse identities held throughout our campus community.”

Those actions include updating the Bias Incident Response Team, which is responsible for responding to incidents of racism, microaggressions and bias. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will also update their programming and will reach out to students who need support during this time or want to be educated on racial topics.

Another action the university will take is creating a new education program for faculty and staff that will cover diversity and inclusion. The educational series will be developed by the Department of Education Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development in the College of Education and Human Development, and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Bendapudi also stated the University of Louisville Police Department is committed to keeping campus safe for all students and is involved in discussions surrounding race. “The Department continues to be actively involved in open forums discussing critical racial issues that impact our campus and local community,” Bendapudi said.

U of L has also created a resource page that can be found on the Diversity and Inclusion website. The website provides information on the history of racism and slavery for those interested in learning more about these issues.

Bendapudi concluded the email by acknowledging that these actions are not a solution by themselves but do point to progress the university is making.

“It will take all of us acting collectively with informed intention and empowering care to start to see the change we need, “Bendapudi said.

“I ask each of us to please take an intentional step today to be better and to do more. I need your help. Our Cardinal Family of color needs your help. Our society needs your help.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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