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Alumni testify in support of Africana Studies

Photo Credit: Daily Egyptian

From the Daily Egyptian:

A number of attendees spoke to the board in defense of the Africana studies program.

The undergraduate degree program is on the chopping block following Board of Trustees approval of the “Financial Sustainability Plan” in July. This plan would cut about $26 million from the university, including seven degree programs. The bachelor’s in Africana studies is one of these.

One of the program’s defendants was Ella Phillips Lacey, a member of the Racial Justice Coalition of Carbondale. Lacey said she is a three-degree graduate, an emeritus faculty member of the School of Medicine and a life member of the Alumni Association.

She said the coalition is deeply troubled about the possible closure of the program.

“[This] would be very insensitive to the needs continually evident in our country and, especially now, for racial and cultural inclusion,” Lacey said.

She said it is one of the few programs that are available on campus that foster academic inclusion of African American students.

Lacey asked the board if they could evaluate Africana studies by including some variables to evaluate the necessity of the program. She also suggested weighing the advice of advisers to those in the major and taking into account students that double major in Africana studies and another degree program.

Linda Flowers, a member of Carbondale’s NAACP, also spoke in support of the program.

Flowers, also a three-degree SIU alumna and a life member of the Alumni Association, voiced disapproval for the elimination of Africana studies.

She said board members should consider the racial tension and unrest in the country, particular the recent events in Charlottesville, North Carolina.

“I can testify firsthand of the differences in students of color — academic, social, emotional, behavioral and cultural outcomes — when there is diversity of staff, administrators and thoughts,” Flowers said.

She said the elimination of the program won’t result in any savings for the university because all the faculty members are tenured and also teach in other departments.

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