After the world witnessed and reacted to the horrific lynching of Mr. George Floyd, it took a time-span of nearly 3 weeks and pressure from students, for IE University to respond to the pervasive issue of racial discrimination and violence experienced by Black people and POC in a formal letter. Unfortunately, 3 weeks is an unacceptable amount of time to wait. While students suffered from the trauma and distress these painful and unjust realities provoke, they luckily leaned into one another, discussing current events and providing support. They also took action! The IE Black Summit was a phenomenal online event organized by Club Coordinators that educated the community on the history of Black people in America, and a group of students discussed these issues with IE faculty and staff as described in the article: Improving Race Relations at IE.
Ongoing dialogue and action continues to erupt in the media, in newsrooms, in households, and on the streets in protest. Social media has been a powerful tool used to communicate images of protests, footage of police brutality, provide lists of resources for people to connect to, etc. A particular dialogue on race, white privilege, and hate crimes took place in May on an Instagram account run by IE undergraduates called “@ieunimemes” (this is not an institutional account). It generated a Q&A where students could respond with opinions on current issues. Some of the responses written by IE students were alarming.
“Racism does not exist, laws here apply to everybody. That guy is just a repugnant murderer.”…“White privilege is a myth since we live in societies where equality is guaranteed by law.”…“People are blaming the entire white race for what happened to Floyd and not the individual”. Whether these are serious opinions or not, they are incendiary, problematic, and inherently violent statements.
Racism exists and negatively impacts people’s lives everyday, yet isn’t experienced firsthand by everyone. White privilege is also an institutionalized construct and marginalizes any person that is not White. Among a largely European student body, a very small percentage of Black students are enrolled at IE University, comprising a minority of the student population. While current students and alumni have experienced racial discrimination and harassment on campus, many of the instances go unaddressed. If some students at IE do not believe that racism and white privilege, then essentially racial discrimination could continue to go unchecked and negatively impact POC. But these potential scenarios we will not tolerate nor turn a blind eye toward.
A Black student at IE wanted to investigate fellow Black students’ experiences at IE, and created the ‘Black Student Experience Survey’. On many levels, the Black student experience was not entirely satisfactory, which drove the impetus to create a petition to the university. Within the petition there are 6 actions the university could take to better support Black students in their academic journey. It is clear that IE University is a proponent of diversity; it is one of the university’s main pillars. However, while diversity on the basis of gender, nationalities and origins is represented, there is limited racial diversity that can be observed among students, staff and in the perspectives of authors and thinkers in academic subject matter.
The petition is a call to action to hold IE University accountable to the pillar of Diversity they uphold and promote ubiquitously. This is not an attack on the university nor the student body, this petition was created to uplift Black voices, offer a window into the experiences of Black folks, and educate the community on issues that are difficult to face yet are necessary to unpack. Please read this petition, sign this petition, and spread the word so that our University can take direct action and be held accountable to cultivate a diverse, inclusive, and safe environment where all students can succeed. Only we as an entire collective can address these pervasive issues by doing the work internally, and leading by example.
Here you will find a free document compiled with helpful literary resources and prompts with the goal to facilitate growth for white folks to become allies, and eventually accomplices for anti-racist work.
Thank you for taking the time to read this,
Naima Sudjian-Carlisle, Member of the Diversity and inclusion Committee
*DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article and the “Call to Action: Improving Racial Diversity and Inclusion at IE University” petition by the Diversity & Inclusion Committee do not necessarily represent the views and beliefs of The Stork or the official policies of The Stork and its affiliates.