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Black ink : Black Student Movement, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. online resource ([Chapel Hill, N.C.]) 1969-current, February 10, 1993, Image 6

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COVER STORY 6 FEBRlMRYJ[0j_1993_J A Repeat i Student activism and racial unrest on t By Karen Greene Ink Staff Writer "When we look at UNC, we see an institution which leeches off the community. And as long as UNC is UNC and continues to be a racist institution, we will condemn it for whal it is.” These are not the words of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Black Cultural Cen ter activists like Michelle Thomas, Black Suident Movementprcsident, nor are they the words of Tim Smith, Jimmy Hitchcock or John Bradley, leaders of the outspoken Black Awareness Council. These words were spoken by then-BSM president Jimmy McRae on Nov. 19, 1971. “We have a tradition of student activism on this campus,” says Rosalind Fuse-Hall, a 1980 gradu ate and current Associate Dean of Student Counseling. “I think pro testing wakes the sleeping giant by calling administrative attention to the needs of the black community.” But why, after 45 years of inte gration, are UNC’s black suidents voicing the same frustrations and fighting the same battles as their predecessors of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s? The late sixties and early seven ties were a heyday for student activ ism, especially for the campus of UNC, which saw workers’ strikes, building takeovers and the frebombing of the Institute of Phar macy. Today’s activism is a kinder, gentler, brand, but the demands, the complamts and the opaque walls of the color line remain the same. “When you look at old issues of Black Ink (the official newspaper of the BSM),” said Carol Brown, a senior biology major, “you find some of the problems and demands they had in the sixties are—almost verbatim—the same ones we have now. As far as I’m concemed, we haven’t come far at all.” Both black and white students at the University speak of a tense ra cial climate on the campus. “1 think it's a lot more intense than people realize,” said Bruce Roberts, senior. “Its not just about the BCC, it’s on a day to day basis. I don’t think it’s the adminis tration or the professors that’s mak ing it hard for the black students. tors is not limited to UNC. North Carolina State University, Duke University, and several other insti tutions nationwide have been riddled with racial unrest. Despite the 21 percent increase A renewed spirit of protest exploded at the Spike Lee rally In September. though.” Malcolm Turner, a senior busi ness major, Morehead Scholar and one of three UNC nominees for the Rhodes Scholarship disagrees. “The tension goes even further than the students,” he said. “I’ve had a number of profes sors who I think expected a lower level of performance in their class from me because of my race. I’ve always had to be nK>re aggressive in showing them that I was capable and that I set extremely high goals for myself academically.” Brown, a Pogue scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa has sensed similar attitudes. “It’s as if the professors automatically assume that our work will be inferior be cause they don’t think we have the background to fully comprehend the subject matier,” she said. The ongoing c lash between black students and university administra in enrollment of historically black colleges and universities, a vast majority of the top 10 percent of black students opt to go to predomi nantly white institutions. A 1991 study, conducted by Chalmer E. Thompson and Bruce R. Freu reported that black sui dents, based on a case study of a southern, state-supported, predomi nantly white universities, were less satisfied than whites with the qual ity of their education, and felt greater tension and hostility in their envi ronment. “I don’t see where there’s rac ism on a day to day basis,” said Katie Caldwell, a UNC sophomore. “But I imagine that it’s harder for the black students because they’re on the receiving end.” Brown agreed. “Being black in America makes us more sensitive to race than whites are, simply be cause they’ve been raised in a soci ety that tells them they are supe rior.” The study said the tension stunted intellectual and social growth on the part of black stu dents, because they develop a high tolerance for racism. It also said black students at predominantly black institutions experienced more growth than ones at predominantly white institutions. Dean Fuse-Hall, however ex pressed a different opinion. “I al ways said I went to UNC but I lived at A&T,” she said. “We only had about 800 black students here, but I don’t feel like I missed out on the ‘black experience’ at all. “Most of my involvement was with black folk. We had a set time when we all ate dinner, Black Ink came out regularly. We had the Ebony/Readers Onyx Theater, we even had our own yearbook one year. It was a great time to be here.” That same division of “black activities” and “white activities” exists today. John Atkeson, a mem ber of Chi Psi fraternity, said, “There’s hardly any interaction with the black and white greeks. The effort has been made, but even with our fraternity being integral e^*»— we have a number of minor ity members—it’s stili considered a “white orga nization.” The lack of attention toward black student needs, has fueled the free standing BCC debate. While supporters of the center cite the university’s lack of sensi tivity to the cultural dis tinction of black students opponents say a free standing building would promote separatism. Some have even sug gested that if black stu dents want a separation of black culture, they should go to a black col lege. “We can have it here, too,” said Dean Fuse-Hall. “This is a state-supported institu tion, and as long as we pay taxes, we have th> right to be here. ' “Even if we weren’t here, the University would have an obliga- ^ tion to have an African American Studies Department or a Black Cul- i tural Center.” HaroldWoodard.aclassof 1978 i graduate and UNC’s Assistant Dean | of Student Counseling, agrees. “I I don’t believe in the American cul tural melting pot,” he said. “If this country is to be likened to a stew, then the ingredients are distinct ethnic cultures. What they call ‘American culture’ is just the sauce.” Johnnie Southerland, class of 1981 said, “Cultures are preserved within the confines of being an American for all ethnic groups. The administrators need to realize that African Americans aren’t going anywhere.” Instead, Brown said the admin istration is guilty of treating black students as if they were not there. “We end up feeling like we don’t have a place here,” she said. Chalmer and Fretz’s study also indicated that blacks identify less with their university than their whife counterparts. The black student population at UNC, however has had a tradition of making their pres- 1^. Look familiar? Blacks qi Unlv(

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