Newark Branch NAACP response to University of Delaware Interim President

TheReview2015Oct27Having first learned about this issue from the National NAACP twitter feed, the statement below is in response to the October 27, 2015 article in the University of Delaware student newspaper.

As the adult affiliate of the UD Chapter of the NAACP, we are supportive and proud of the students who are organizing to address racism in the classroom and on campus. In addition, we are also engaged on a variety of issues in the greater Newark area, many of which include or stem from the activities and institutional culture of the main campus of the University of Delaware. These include housing and education, which are central to our mission.

While President Targett was reluctant to discuss ongoing and legacy issues between the University and the community, including the problems created by the encroachment of off-campus student housing and University facilities in the historic black neighborhoods that we represent, we feel very strongly that the University should assume a role of leadership in a community engagement and outreach dialogue on these issues. Her claim that “the past is in the past” disregards the ongoing challenges confronted by the University’s community of neighbors. In any commitment to cultivate trust within the wider off-campus community, the University cannot unilaterally select its own issues, and we look forward to future conversations specifically on this topic.

Furthermore, President Targett’s decision to release the details of our meeting on September 30 to the press without our knowledge or consent was a betrayal of trust and an appropriation of our efforts to address issues of disparity to claim legitimacy on behalf of the University.

While it is unfortunate that the student journalist chose to write an unbalanced story about our group without contacting us, we have reached out to The Review about our concerns.


Read the complete text of our letter to Interim President Nancy Targett:

October 28, 2015

Dear Dr. Targett,

Thank you very much for your recent meeting with the Newark Branch NAACP on September 30 to discuss minority student recruitment and retention on campus. While we appreciate the new and ongoing initiatives on campus, we look forward to greater community engagement with the off-campus community to improve campus-community relationships and enhance the academic and social experiences of current and future students.

As we discussed, we look forward to the forthcoming Diversity Plan being developed by Dr. Carol Henderson. In our meeting with Dr. Henderson on March 24, 2015 it was our understanding that there would be community engagement with the Branch as part of the development of the Diversity Plan. While we are disappointed to learn that this is no longer the case, we hope that the University will embrace the value of community engagement and outreach as part of the Plan, and that the dialogue between the University and the off-campus community will improve in the near future.

In addition, we look forward to the forthcoming compilation of academic and award programs offered by the University for low-income and minority in-state students. From our recent meeting we are now aware of a variety of new programs which have recently been launched. In order for these programs to have the intended effect, they must be disseminated within communities to reach the Pre-K to Grade 12 students that are targeted by these programs. Once we are able to evaluate the breadth of offerings by the University in detail, we look forward to an ongoing conversation about how current programs can be implemented or new programs can be developed to achieve greater minority and low-income student recruitment and academic success during their college experience.

As the adult affiliate of the UD Chapter of the NAACP, we are supportive and proud of the students who are organizing to address racism in the classroom and on campus. In addition, we are also engaged on a variety of issues in the greater Newark area, many of which include or stem from the activities and institutional culture of the main campus of the University of Delaware. These include housing and education, which are central to our mission.

While you were reluctant to discuss ongoing and legacy issues between the University and the community, including the problems created by the encroachment of off-campus student housing and University facilities in the historic black neighborhoods that we represent, we feel very strongly that the University should assume a role of leadership in a community engagement and outreach dialogue on these issues. Your claim that “the past is in the past” disregards the ongoing challenges confronted by the University’s community of neighbors. In any commitment to cultivate trust within the wider off-campus community, the University cannot unilaterally select its own issues, and we look forward to future conversations specifically on this topic.

For example, the decision of the University to expand the campus facilities along New London Road, Cleveland Avenue and Ray Street, and the decision of the University to provide on-campus housing for only 52% of undergraduate students and 46% of graduate students (according to the City of Newark rental housing needs assessment) has displaced housing within our community, contributed to a gentrification of neighborhoods and higher rents, and has led directly to increased rent burdens which perpetuate conditions of poverty. The fragmentation of Newark neighborhoods with off-campus student housing and University buildings, particularly in “The Village”, is an important topic that we would like to resolve moving forward. Meaningful engagement with the community must include the University’s willingness to listen and address the off campus issues that are confronting our members on a daily basis.

Furthermore, your decision to release the details of our meeting on September 30 to the press[1] without our knowledge or consent was a betrayal of trust and an appropriation of our efforts to address issues of disparity to claim legitimacy on behalf of the University. While our concerns are not resolved (and some of our concerns were dismissed), your quotes in the newspaper indicate otherwise, leading to a dishonest misrepresentation of breadth of our concerns. By capitalizing on our protracted outreach to the University, apparently for public relations purposes, your actions have cast a shadow over the integrity of the University and its willingness to participate in meaningful community engagement and an honest discourse with diverse constituencies in a respectful manner.

In the future and out of respect, we hope that you will consult with us before making public any of our future interactions and provide us with the opportunity to include our own voices in such disclosures. While it is unfortunate that the student journalist chose to write an unbalanced story about our group without contacting us, we have reached out to The Review about our concerns.

Again, we appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and to assist the University in achieving its goals in minority student recruitment, academic success, defeating racism, and engaging in the community.

Respectfully,

Gary Hayman, President

[1] “University Improves Relationship with NAACP” by Patrick Witterschein. The Review, October 27, 2015, centerpiece.

 

 

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *