On Monday night, around 20 people attended the November town hall for the Black Student Union, an organization that brings together different Black organizations on campus. At the virtual town hall, three different speakers talked about their experience at the University of Georgia as members of the Black community.
Associate Professor of employment law and legal studies Dawn Bennett-Alexander said UGA has changed since she first started working at the university 33 years ago, such as its increase in students and faculty members of color.
Students Arianna Mbunwe and Cheryl Kwapong spoke about their leadership roles in organizations on campus.
The town hall focused largely on the university’s work in increasing diversity and making sure all students receive equal opportunities. BSU Vice Chair Hayliegh Rose asked about the process of changing the names of buildings who were named after racist figures.
Kwapong, a senior journalism major and the vice president of the Student Government Association, said the process of renaming buildings has “a lot of moving pieces.”
The renaming process for UGA buildings and all University System of Georgia colleges, schools and buildings will go through a naming advisory committee. The committee is scheduled to begin its final review of building, school and college names in early 2021. Kwapong said students should be patient with the changes because the process goes beyond the University of Georgia.
Kwapong said she has worked on a diversity, inclusivity and equity module, similar to the alcohol education module about safe and responsible alcohol consumption that new UGA students have to complete during orientation.
Mbunwe, a junior political science major and executive director for the Young Democrats of UGA, spoke on her experience as a target of racial commentary in a Lambda Chi Alpha group chat in September.
“I’ve become everyone’s bullseye for the past semester,” Mbunwe said.
She added that minimal action has been taken in response, and called for the Equal Opportunity Office to do more.
Bennett-Alexander supported the university administration, specifically President Jere Morehead, emphasizing the care he has for students.
The biggest job of a university president is to raise money, Bennett-Alexander said, and Morehead focuses on raising money that will better students’ experience at UGA.
She added the importance of working together as a community to reach out to all kinds of people to increase inclusivity and diversity on campus. She said that diversity at UGA has increased since she first started teaching, but there is still work to be done.
“I came here to help UGA move forward,” Bennett-Alexander said. “We need the help of everyone.”