In spite of the dreary, rainy weather, students, faculty, and staff all joined together with umbrellas in hand to come together in solidarity and unity to commemorate the founding of Concerned Black Students (CBS) with a symbolic walkout.
Nearly 75 students took part in the walkout that went through several academic buildings and Recitation Hall, ending on Alumni Way.
Associate Dean of Students and Multicultural Student Programs John Young sent an email out to faculty members the Monday before the walkout, informing them what the purpose of the walkout was.
“In the mid-to late 1960s predominantly white universities, such as Wittenberg, witnessed the growing presence of African American students, but their numbers remained fairly small,” Young wrote. “Influenced by the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, black students and their allies among the general student body and faculty engaged in negotiations and protest on these campuses in efforts to increase the number of African American students, faculty and staff.”
He went further to state why we continue to commemorate the 1968 walkout that took place here at Wittenberg: “In 1968 black students at Wittenberg organized as Concerned Black Students and submitted 13 demands to university. Among other things, these demands included the recruitment of more black students, the hiring of black faculty and staff, and the offering of courses in black studies. When negotiations over the 13 demands failed, CBS members ‘walked off’ of campus in protest.”
Among the many people to join CBS on their walkout was Provost Christopher Duncan. When Duncan was asked what his reactions were to the event he said, “This is an outstanding way to bring the community of memory together.”
Throughout the years of commemorating this walk annually, Wittenberg has changed and so has the demands of what CBS expects from the university. Last year, CBS presented Wittenberg administration officials with a list of ten demands. At the beginning of the walkout, participants were notified of what the list of ten demands included. The list included a diversity recruiting mandate, a zero tolerance policy, and a complete restructuring of the Multicultural Office.
President Laurie Joyner told The Torch when the administration received the list of demands that they were “a little disappointed,” but realized “our institution is still a microcosm of larger society.”
What many people did not know was even before the administration was presented with the list of demands, they were already working on changes. As result of the demands, several have come to fruition already, such as an anonymous reporting website, a diversity employment hiring initiative and a zero tolerance policy.
The solution to meet the demands of a diversity employment hiring initiative was met by hiring Jon Duraj as the new Associate Dean for Student Success and Retention, as well as hiring the new Area Coordinator and CBS advisor Brian Richardson.
Richardson said while he has a lot of ideas for improvements for CBS, we have “to stay tuned” for next year.
Many students who participated in the walkout say they look forward to the event every year because it is a tradition at Wittenberg and they will continue to look forward to the walkout.