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C-U Black Activists call for diversity and access at the University of Illinois

A press conference will be held on Friday at the University YMCA to show residents how the University of Illinois has failed to fulfill its land grant mission to provide accessibility to all residents of Illinois. This seems to be a pretty major failing on the University’s end.

From the release:

Two long-time African-American community activists, Terry Townsend and Martel Miller, will be holding a press conference on Friday, Feb. 27, 4 p.m. at the University YMCA in the Board Room. They are releasing a report documenting the failure of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to fulfill its land grant mission of providing accessibility to all residents of Illinois, particularly its African-American residents.

The report details the deplorable conditions of the Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, the precipitous drop in African-American student enrollment, and the dismally low number of African-American faculty. In 2014, the freshman class at UIUC included only 356 African-Americans (down from 433 in 2013).

Terry Townsend, UIUC alumnus and organizer of the 40th anniversary of Project 500, stated, “We need to rededicate ourselves to the underrepresented. Chancellor Wise is more concerned about achieving global diversity, rather than reaching African-American students from Champaign, Chicago, or Ferguson.”

The percentages of African-Americans in academic and nonacademic positions at the University of Illinois leave much room for improvement. Black unemployment in Champaign-Urbana remains an alarming 17.4%, while the Illinois rate is 6.2%.

Other figures document the invisible barrier between campus and the African-American community that is enforced by campus police. This is evident in the disproportionate number of trespassing tickets given to local black youth. From 2012-2014, 375 trespass notices were given to African-Americans, which accounted for 60% of all such notices issued by University of Illinois police.

Townsend and Miller urge the Board of Trustees not to renew the Chancellor’s employment contract. They call for real diversity and access at the University of Illinois.  

Contact: Terry Townsend (217) 766-0051 | Martel Miller (217) 480-1332

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