In My Opinion 

Black students losing control of studies  
 
By Jason Shelton 

November 25, 1997 

The 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 university community. 
     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. 
     The Department 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. 
     Oscar Ritchie 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.  
     "I encouraged 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. 
     Several groups 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. 
     This situation 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. 
     Those involved in the situation and those who want to become involved in the situation must examine it objectively. 
     Biased emotions 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.