In My Opinion
Black students losing control of studies
By Jason Shelton
executive board of Black United Stu- dents has called for the resignation
of George Garrison, chairman of the Department of Pan- African Studies.
The souring relationship
between Garrison and BUS has been ongoing from close to two academic years.
It has heen kept
under wraps for fear of airing out our dirty laundry in front of the entire
The Black Friday
rally held last week was the straw that broke the camel's back.
BUS was forced
to take up its issues with Garrison in a public arena for two reasons:
(1) "the extraordinary review" of Garrison's performance currently taking
place in the department, and (2) the fact that most other mediation attempts
have been exhausted, leaving BUS to handle issues that faculty and staff
have failed to resolve.
of Pan-African Studies is the only academic institution on this campus
created for students by students.
It exists today
because of BUS' efforts to establish a "Black Education" program at KSU
during the late 1960s.
The black student
movement gave birth to the Department; those who don't understand BUS'
action last week are unaware of accountability factors between black students
and black faculty and staff.
Hall is the "House that BUS built." BUS, as a collective organization,
must maintain checks and balances on the department in order to
preserve the true focus of a black education.
Across the country,
Black Studies programs are vehemently being dismantled in the name of multiculturalism.
There are some
folks on this campus who believe that the new "diversity requirement"
undermines Pan-African Studies in the sense that it may lay the groundwork
for the academic re-organization of the department.
This is one of
the primary issues that BUS has with Garrison: the fact — or perception
— that black students and faculty are losing control of the department.
The first major
incident occurring between BUS and Dr. Garrison came during the Black Tuesday
protest on the 2nd floor of the library in August of 1996.
There was a short
stand-off between BUS leaders and Garrison, who urged students to disband
the sit-in because it was "wrong."
As relayed by
a BUS leader on Friday, Garrison wrote a memo saying, "I publicly opposed
the sit-in at the president's office, which jeopardized my credibility
with the student leadership.
them to soften their approach and to enter into a dialogue with the administration."
Last year, faculty
rifts in the Department of Pan-African Studies began to affect the students.
approached BUS with grievances against the department of Pan-African Studies.
The BUS Executive
Board addressed the faculty saying, "Black United Students must now take
'appropriate action' since DPAS hasn't provided a 'progressive environment'
that is conducive to the black student experience here at KSU.
". . . We regret
having to get involved in this no-win situation. But since black students
are the backbone of DPAS, we have more to lose than anyone else — pending
the outcome of the Department's current circumstances."
Let us not forget
that Garrison has sup- ported BUS in many ways.
He assisted in
administrative meetings resulting from Black Tuesday.
He has written
several letters pertaining to pertinent issues on behalf of black students.
He stuck up for
us involving situations concerning the Kent Police Department and the search
committee for the Associate Vice President for Student Support Services.
between Garrison, Depart- ment faculty, and BUS is touchy because there
are positive and negative issues on both sides of the coin.
BUS has every
right to intimately partici- pate and question issues confronting the Department
of Pan-African Studies.
in the situation — and those who want to become involved in the situation
— must examine it objectively.
will only further divide us.
It's a shame
that the rifts in KSU's Pan- African community are so wide that demands
must be made on blacks, by blacks.
The crisis of
black leadership has once again reared its ugly head.