University of Arizona Minority Students Demand Free Tampons, Condoms, and More
Scene from a protest to highlight the demand letter publicly released this week by the Marginalized Students of the University of Arizona.
UPDATE: The U of A finally releases a statement about the demand letter. (See below.)
Free tampons, menstrual pads, and condoms in university restrooms — and free testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
Faculty race quotas in place by 2020.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in new funding for building renovations, access to free computers, paid tutors, reduced-price or free healthy food, and new places to practice spirituality or religion.
These are just some of the demands by representatives of the University of Arizona's minority-student organizations in a lengthy letter sent this week to university officials.
Calling themselves the Marginalized Students of the University of Arizona (MSUA), they represent various campus cultural centers including: the Adalberto & Ana Guerrero Center, African American Student Affairs, Asian Pacific Student Affairs, LGBTQ Resource Center, Native American Student Affairs, and the Women's Resource Center.
The U of A "has failed to appropriately acknowledge and address the lived experiences of marginalized groups on our campus," reads the letter's preamble. "It is important to note that these are Demands, not simply requests or suggestions. These represent thoughtful, meaningful reforms that are necessary in order to affirm the expectation of safety and real-life equity."
The letter includes a few less controversial demands, like boosting mental-health services, promptly notifying the campus when crimes affecting safety have occurred, and creating harsher consequences for students who commit sex crimes or harass others.
But it's the many demands for "free" things that's creating an Internet buzz, with critical articles like one on Breitbart.com this week displaying a picture of a baby and deeming the students "crybullies." A hashtag repurposed by the group, #msua, so far has been a dud, attracting only a few right-wingers and smart alecks.
"Now #MSUA is headed for destruction just like #Mizzou, killed by out of control Fascist Liberals," blurted North Carolina tweeter LucidHurricane.
Several dozens students showed up at a protest this week at the university's Old Main to highlight the public release of the demand letter. According to the Daily Wildcat student newspaper, minority students are angry with U of A President Ann Weaver Hart over her refusal to condemn the name of a new Tucson chain restaurant, Illegal Pete's, or to give more time to hear the students' complaints. The paper quotes Kevyn Butler, the Black Student Union's co-president, saying the MSUA's mission is modeled after last year's student protests at the University of Missouri.
"It just ended up happening that our campus climate is so much more different, seeing as we are a predominately white institution,” Butler told the Daily Wildcat.
Neither Butler nor other students returned a message left Thursday with the group's university program coordinator for African American Student Affairs, Isoken Adodo. A spokesman said Thursday the university had no public statement about the demands but would issue one today. It hadn't by the publication time of this article.
The MSUA's concerns include "a lack of campus wide cultural competency, explicit and implicit racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, ableism, sexism, and rape culture that run rampant throughout our campus."
It listed these specific demands:
* A "Cultural Competency Curriculum across campus," reaching dorm staff and residents, Daily Wildcat employees, Greek Life members, and all "students, administrators, staff and faculty."
* Increase in "staff of color" across all university employees to 15 percent by 2020.
* "Implementation of trigger warnings within course materials and contents." — Trigger warnings were defined in an article last year in The Atlantic as "alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response."
* The creation and maintenance of "safe space within the classroom." — Adodo, while making clear she isn't speaking directly for the group, tells New Times that a professor who perpetuates the idea that "it's okay to racially profile" might be prohibited from doing so in a "safe space."
* An "emergency fund" of $35,000 put into the accounts of each campus cultural center.
* More scholarships for marginalized students.
* A minimum of $500,000 allocated to "diversity initiatives."
* Increased funding overall for the cultural centers, with paid tutors made available and access to computer equipment in each center.
* Boosted financial support for "students with food insecurity," along with increased options for healthy food on campus.
* More "counselors of color" and full-time counselors for sexual-assault victims.
* Establishment of an Oasis Center-type advocacy program for the LGBTQ community.
* Free tampons, menstrual pads, and condoms in all campus restrooms, plus distribution through Campus Health of "dental dams, external, and internal condoms, and pre-exposure pills to ward off HIV.
* Increase in staff of color across all university employees to 15 percent by 2020.
* Unisex restrooms within dorms and campus buildings by 2020.
* "Creation of religious spaces for traditional events and ceremonies" for various "student demographics," and "spaces dedicated to and for native students to practice spirituality."
One thing the demand letter doesn't mention:
Whether the students prefer a tuition hike or taxpayer dollars to fund their expensive demands.
Below: the full demand letter.
UPDATE 3 p.m. — the U of A's full response to the Marginalized Students:
Dear Representatives of the Marginalized Students of the UA,
We, the leaders of the administration, faculty and students at the University of Arizona, have received your combined lists of demands.
Last semester, we recognized and agreed that the campus experience for many students of color, students with disabilities, women and LGBTQ students is not as welcoming and understanding as we or you want it be. This must change and we are committed to making it happen.
Since then, faculty, staff and student leaders have worked many hours on immediate measures to improve multicultural competencies and appreciation for diversity across campus. Others have begun to plan long-term strategies to work for a more inclusive community, and we expect and hope you will be a part of these efforts. These measures, some of which will be finalized this semester, address resident assistant training, orientation, and other activities that have raised concerns during the many discussions that have taken place.
The UA values shared governance and decision-making, which takes time but leads to better problem-solving and results, and we will continue to engage with you and other campus organizations as we work collaboratively toward our ideals. We commit to taking action in the most judicious and timely fashion possible.
President Ann Weaver Hart
Provost Andrew Comrie
Senior Vice President Melissa Vito
Chair of the Faculty Professor Lynn Nadel
ASUA President Manuel Felix
GPSC President Sarah Netherton
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