Campus & Community

Black Lives Matter a hot topic at Diversity Summit

During an afternoon session at DU’s 15th annual Diversity Summit today, Frank Tuitt, senior advisor to the chancellor and provost on diversity and inclusion at DU, moderated a panel featuring faculty from DU and CU Boulder. Panelists included Armond Towns, assistant professor of culture and communication at DU, Bianca Williams, assistant professor of ethnic studies at CU Boulder, and Joshua Bartholomew, a DU doctoral student studying religion and social change. Tuitt asked the panelists to discuss the implications of the Black Lives Matter movement and how those implications can lead to creating an inclusive campus environment.

Bartholomew, who also is a core member of Denver’s Black Lives Matter 5280 group, opened his remarks by saying, “My involvement with the movement has taught me that education should be liberative and relational in the way it bridges the gap between institutions of higher learning and marginalized communities, which includes those who don’t have access to levels of higher education.”

Williams emphasized the application of lessons from the movement. “It’s pushing students to think about long-term goals for campuses,” she said, “ no longer allowing them to only think about the University as a space of four to five years, and no longer (letting) administrators off with the idea that there’s only a four- or five-year memory.”

Towns added that while interesting, the question of how to incorporate Black Lives Matter into the classroom is a difficult one. “I’m kind of skeptical of the radical potential of higher education,” he said. “Higher education as it stands right now is fundamentally in opposition to Black Lives Matter.”

The panelists also discussed the issues in the Black Lives Matter movement that are relevant to higher education, and how they reconcile a belief in and solidarity with the movement that often puts them at odds with their profession. The session ended with questions from the audience.

5 Comments

  1. Have you heard of Mr. Towns complaint about DU updating the community about the safety of “white lives” after the Paris attacks? This guy is a disgrace, and I’m afraid he has lost all credibility.

  2. Firs of all, it’s Dr. or Professor Towns. Secondly, if you read the open letter published by Dr. Towns and others at the University, it was not a “complaint” about the University publishing an update. The letter merely highlighted the fact that this same type of update and concern for the safety of our students is not demonstrated by the the University when non-white lives are involved or when these types of attacks are perpetrated in non-European communities. Please read the letter and open your mind to understand a perspective that is not your own. This is about valuing ALL lives equally; about not making – or appearing to make – the lives of one race more valuable than those of others!

    • Yes, Joshua and Nancy! Dr. Towns is speaking out against systemic oppression that needs to be addressed. Let’s not let people silence us!

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