Quinnipiac University has come under harsh criticism from its students for a statement it released following the Black Lives Matter protests.
were sparked by the death of George Floyd
, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery
and many others as protestors, infuriated by the police system, called for government action and the defunding of police.
Students across the nation have received statements from their universities on the matter, including students at Quinnipiac University, a private university in Hamden, Connecticut. The school made a statement of solidarity on its official Instagram and Twitter accounts on June 3.
“Achieving inclusive excellence requires creating a sense of belonging for all individuals – especially historically marginalized members of society – while asserting the worth, dignity, legitimacy and equality of our fellow community members,” the statement said.
The university was met with immediate backlash, as current students and alumni denounced the hypocrisy of the statement. Many stories of hate and harassment from students appeared in the comments on both social media platforms.
Sokaina Asar told NextShark that she created a petition in response
to Quinnipiac University’s stance. She cited the lack of support for diversity and cultural competency as one of the reasons she transferred to the University of Connecticut, where she graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience.
“These were real stories, real people, real lives that matter,” she said. “And Quinnipiac needs to do better to support each and every student, no matter what they look like. No one should feel the way those people in the comments did.”
The petition demands that the university apologize for its “vague” statement and not directly addressing the Black community.
A page on the university’s website dedicated to diversity and inclusion lists the two words as essential in developing the student population.
“We view inclusive excellence as an essential value that defines who we are and where we are headed as the University of the Future,” the page read.
The petition listed nine demands, including the decolonization of the curriculum and increased resources for students of color. The petition also prompted responses from the university moving forward.
Asar told NextShark she had done extensive research and reached out to students and student organizations of color to proofread the petition before launching. The petition has nearly reached its goal of 5,000 signatures, as of this writing.
“This mission of this petition is to serve as support for the organizations and be transparent with the way Quinnipiac has neglected its students of color,” she said.
The Class of 2022 is predominately White, with 76.32% enrolled, according to Quinnipiac’s facts page
The two Quinnipiac students, Mary Gerdenich and Isabella Dias, who started the account aim to gather and unify students of color while holding the administration accountable.
Gerdenich, a political science and criminal justice major, sees Instagram as a powerful tool.
“We stood strongly behind the belief that the racism and pain students of color faced should not just be situations swept under the rug, but they should be highlighted and given true attention,” they told NextShark. “We post the stories written in with hopes of bringing awareness to the big problems that exist on our campus, and which exist within school systems around the country, as racism affects people of color in all areas.”
Dias emphasized action goes beyond social media and support of student organizations making changes is key.
“If you are a white or non-black student continue to educate, advocate, and support,” they said. “We stress the importance for students to support their multicultural organizations and students of color at Quinnipiac and Universities across the country. Students can help change the culture from within, and influence the administration to listen.”
Quinnipiac told NextShark that it hosted a town hall on June 24 to tackle the issues in the community.
“University leadership is engaged in deep discussions with students and faculty to collaborate in addressing and eradicating the corrosive, crippling effects of racism within our own community, and more broadly in all that surrounds us,” John W. Morgan, Associate Vice President for Public Relations, said in an email. “These conversations with students, faculty and staff are helping shape QU’s actions and commitment to lasting change and we’ll hold ourselves accountable for constructive and sustained results.”