Letter to the Editor:  

Garrison responds to BUS grievances  
November 25, 1997 

   The situation in DPAS, plain and simple, is about who is in charge. Shall the Department be run by a man who retired five years ago, or will it be run hy the current Chair? That is the question. 
   The current Chair is not a titular head, but rather he is one who thinks for himself, acts on his own motives and has a clear and authentic vision for this Department - one that is consistent with the past vision, but one that allows the Department to evolve to the next progressive level. 
   21 November 1997 shall forever be a "day of infamy" for the leadership of Black United Students - the day that young folk stained and dishonored the sacred legacy of struggle through a premeditated, planned and orchestrated vicious and malicious assault on the character and professional career, of a man who has given over 35 years of his life to the struggle of his people. 
   For the last 21 years he has consistently been one of the strongest advocates for Black Students on the campuses where he has worked. It is ironic that so many people on this campus know that to be true, and the leadership of BUS claim not to. 
   This leadership appears silly in the eyes of those who have seen the Chair of DPAS over and over again: fight for the proper climate and environment for Black Students to pursue their education; fight for financial aid (scholarships and grants, as opposed to loans); fight for admission criteria that will ensure the continued presence of a diverse and heterogeneous student body; stand with BUS in soIidarity over the issue of the occasional excess of law enforcement, particularly where the canine corps have been employed; intervene when and wherever Black students have been the target of racist and/or white supremacy activities; and among other things, fought hard and sucessful to retain compensation for the BUS board. All of this can be verified by individuals on this campus, and throughout this city and county. 
   It is a day of shame for those young people who allowed themselves to be manipulated by individuals who have abused their position of trust and renounced all pretense to elderhood. 
   The mark trial where students and faculty put themselves up as judge, jury and executioner was reminiscent of the "Salem Witch Trials." 
   The Chair of DPAS is certainly not guilty of the allegations and incrimination that have been leveled at him. My anger gives way to sadness when I think that some of our youth who are in important leadership positions have replaced calm, critical and reasoned decision making, with the frenzy and hysteria of the mob. 
   It seems premature at best, for the leadership of BUS to cal1 for the Answer There is no evidence resignation of one in such a pivotalof this, relative to the general position as the Chair of DPAS, when African American student body. I do they have not given him the courtesy of discussing their concerns with him. For all to witness, let me answer the charges brought against the Chair of DPAS by the leadership of BUS contained in its letter of 19 November 1997: 

1. "Your blatant disregard of the historical mission of the DPAS." 

Answer I indicated to you during your rally that I was a member of the Black Student Union at the State University of New York at Buffalo during the late 1960s. We were part of the youth movement that brought Black (Pan African) Studies into existence in this country. 
   I have worked in Black Studies Departments for over twelve years, and was Chair of a full Department for seven and one half years before coming to KSU. With the KSU period, I have been Chair of a Black Studies department for over a decade. 
   I certainly know, and have upheld, "the historical mission" of Black (Pan African) Studies. What I have not done, and will not do, is follow blindly some individuals' misperception of this mission, or their personal agenda. 

2. "Your failure to maintain a working relationship with the African American student body." 

Answer There is no evidence of this, relative to the general African American student body. I do have a problem working with anyone who is dishonest, disingenuous or who operates out of bad faith.  

3. "Your assignment of student office space in ORH without any notice to students."  

Answer As part of the "Outreach Mission" of DPAS, I assigned a room that had not been used with any frequency to a community based program designed to continue the education of High school students who have been suspended from classes. 
   BUS had not been using this room for nearly two years, when I assigned this space. As Chair of the Department and Curator of the building, not only do I have the authority to do this, but am expected to utilize DPAS's spaces efficiently. What you have failed to report is the fact that I have made additional space available to BUS. 
   It is hard for me to believe that the responsible leadership of BUS would find fault with my accommodating a program designed to help our youth in the public school system. 

4. "Your open opposition to the African American student body." 

Answer I never have been, nor would I ever be, in "open opposition to the African American student body." My entire career in Higher education, over the last two decedes, has been committed to enancing opportunities and helping our youth be successful. 
   On this the record is clear. 
   As an elder, it has been by duty to oppose what has appeared too me to be misguided and errant behavior on the part of a few. To by and do otherwise would be to set a poor example. 
   You will not find a stronger supporter of Black Students on this campus than I am. 

5. "Your failure to recognize the authority of the Director of the Center for Pan African Culture."  

Answer I understand what the authority of the Director of CPAC is, and do indeed respect it. What you apparently are contused about is that CPAC, as well as IAAA, are subunits of DPAS. Both directors report to the Chair. 

6. "Your inability to serve as a responsible and professional faculty member."  

Answer You have not bothered to find out who I am as a faculty member. You know precious little about the record I have established. If you had the information that is readily available, you would not make that statement. 
   The 21 November 1997 incident was the ugliest display of human behavior that I and some of my colleagues have seen in a long time - students out of control, and faculty members as "agents provocateurs." To all people of conscience involved in this matter, it is "time to break the silence" and step up and be counted. Ultimately, this matter is about decency and indecency, truth and falsehood, the ethical and the unethical.  

George R Garrison
Department Chair,
Pan-African Studies