EMPORIA (KSNT) – Dozens of students gathered around Emporia State University’s Sunken Garden for a moment of prayer. Why?
“To raise awareness of the situations that have been occurring on campus,” says Deidra Elijah.
She and 50 others in marching around the Emporia Kellogg Circle. The march was organized by this couple Dr. Melvin Hale and his wife Angelica. They claim they were targets of racial discrimination while working for the University, complained to the University’s administration and lost. Hale says when the complaint was first made he never though it would end in this march.
“That the dean would have a sensitivity training and we could talk about cultural sensitivity, that’s all I ever expected to come of it,” says Dr. Melvin Hale.
For those participating in the march it’s not just about bringing attention to one event but also making a change throughout the university. And that includes diversifying the school’s faculty.
“Black faculty is a big part of what makes a university a university, without that infrastructure of the faculty and the students working together to be one collective unit, then what do we have?” says ESU Sophomore Jeremiah Johnson.
The university says an independent commission looked into the discrimination complaints, and found no merits to it. However, the report says there’s not currently adequate conversations about diversity.
ESU Interim President Jackie Vietti says, “not to the extent we could, and that’s what this is all about developing a plan of action to be better.”
Vietti says the university is making those changes now and will have it in place later this semester. The school will be bringing in an expert on the issue to work with the university’s faculty, staff and students in October.