The William Monroe Trotter Institute for the study of Black Culture held a meeting in the Quinn Administration Building to discuss Diversity, Democracy, and Dialogue on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus on Sept. 27. Open to the public, the meeting consisted of around 20 people. The people there were offered refreshments prior to the panelists speaking which included Zong Guo Xia, Denise Patmon, Marlene Kim, Rita Edozi, Sarah Tariq, and Albis Mega.
Zong Guo Xia, a professor of Geography started off the meeting speaking on the loss of African American faculty in the past year. At UMass Boston, “14 percent of the African American professionals in Fall 2016” left in 2017. This caused Xia to question if this loss was a fairness issue or a money issue. Xia continued on to say that the number of out-of-state and international students was, “down by 240 and they pay twice as much” in the 2016–17 year.
One of the goals for UMass Boston is to become more diverse. When the word was out that there would be new residence halls, everyone thought that the goal would be accomplished. However, even with the new dorms, there has been a decrease instead of increase in the school’s diversity.
As the meeting moved forward, the panelists began speaking on the retention rates and the number of students at UMass Boston. A woman from Student Affairs explained how the retention rate of UMass Boston will most likely go down because, “students don’t have anywhere to go next year”. Despite the excitement of the new dorms opening, she explained that it’s going to be “a wakeup call” and that they need a plan for the freshman next year because a significant number of students plan on leaving UMass Boston if living arrangements cannot be made.
Following the talk on retention, Marlene Kim, president of faculty staff, shared her concerns on UMass Boston not being able to continue being a research university so that there is continual “equal opportunity and fewer resources so that we serve a different clientele and that scares me.” She then questioned if there is a democracy on the UMass Boston campus which she later answered “no” to. She elaborated that “there is no voice for faculty, staff, and students”. When she found out about a little-known program, she was then told, “Faculty governments has nothing to do with new programs.” However, if this is the case, “Why have faculty governments?”
After the panelists finished their views on what is going on, people began asking questions. The first question was from a professor at the university, who explained his concerns about the diversity on campus as well. He discussed his disagreement with the board of trustees saying that there needs to be more diversity, meanwhile, “They were clearly responsible for firing a black chancellor who has been on the campus for 10 years.” He continued to say that “they forced out two black senior administrators.”
After the professor told the room how he felt towards the situation, a few more people asked questions. The conversation ended on Denise Patmon, questioning how teachers can best do their jobs in ways to support the students on this campus so that UMass Boston can stay alive and thriving for as long as possible.