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Two student-led groups at University of Cincinnati issue calls to action for racial equity

2 groups present demands to president
Posted at 2:55 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 21:11:16-04

CINCINNATI — Another generation of students says the University of Cincinnati is carrying on a history of inequality, and they are pushing administrative leaders to make 20 specific changes.

UC senior Kish Richardson has been involved in conversations about changes with University of Cincinnati police and members of the University President’s Cabinet.

The Cincinnati native also leads a group of campus organizations called Black Round Table.

Earlier this month, Richardson delivered the group’s first list of demands to President Neville Pinto.

“There is an overall disconnect when you speak of the different initiatives, community policing initiatives that the administration has tried to enact,” Richardson said.

A day later, UC’s Student Government sent another list of demands.

“Silence will not be taken lightly,” said Janice Rotich, Student Government’s director of African American Student Affairs.

Both lists include changes such as: Hire more Black faculty, make the UC Police Department budget public, move some police funds to organizations that help students, make Election Day and Juneteenth holidays and remove slave owner Charles McMicken’s name across campus.

“Subjecting African American students to take classes and live in an environment that is memorializing a person who enslaves their ancestors is beyond unconscionable,” Rotich said. “The university owes it to its students that pay money to attend its university.”

History of demands

Some of these demands have been around for years.

A group called the Irate 8 issued a similar list of demands after University Police Officer Ray Tensing killed Samuel DuBose, an unarmed Black man, in 2015.

“The university barely tapped into the demands, and the negligence from the university in acknowledging the plight of its African American students is what drove us to issue these demands. Because there are many students on our campus who do not feel safe, and our university has a responsibility to make sure that every student, including its African American students, feel safe on its campus,” said Rotich.

Now, the nation is protesting inequality and racism after the police killings of Black people around the U.S.

“I don’t think they can escape with as much as they’ve gotten away with in the past,” said Richardson.

President and university response

WCPO reached out to Pinto to find out what changes have happened and what could be next. At the time this article published, Pinto had not responded.

University spokesperson M.B. Reilly wrote in a statement, “We have received the students’ demands. As a premier public institution, we realize that the university holds an important trust with our students, campus and wider community to listen and discuss institutional issues.”

Students want a public statement from Pinto and his cabinet. They want public meetings to develop a timeline for change.

“I think that the pressure is on them,” Robinson said.

Black Round Table says it is prepared to talk to the Department of Education to decide if UC deserves the funding it receives.

Student Government says it is preparing to get the backing of Cincinnati City Council and State Representatives.

They are also prepared to stop recruiting students.

“If the university continues to be silent on Black issues, I personally cannot recruit students to the university that does such a thing. It’s against my ethics and moral code,” Rotich said.

Read the lists of demands below:
Black Round Table + UC Administration Action Demands (2) by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

Official Call to Action for UC Racial Equity Letter by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

WCPO and the Cincinnati Herald worked together to produce this story. The two news organizations are deeply committed to covering what is happening in our African American community.