As the President of the Graduate Leadership Council (GLC) and a two-time American University student, it brings me much sadness and anger to write about the heinous and inexcusable acts that occurred this past weekend on the campus of American University. For those who are not aware, recently there have been two situations where freshmen Black women have been the target of horrific racist acts at American University. At this time, many Black and African-American students, both graduate and undergraduate are feeling as if American University does not protect the interests of Black and African-American students, and that American is not the inclusive school that it prides itself on being. First and foremost, the American University Residence Life and Dean of Students’ offices have acted quickly in investigating both issues in order to conclude what exactly happened. Additionally, a town hall meeting occurred over the weekend and President Kerwin has disseminated a memo on discussing next steps today. Thus, while the steps taken so far are by no means a solution by itself, it does show that the American University administration understands that time is of the essence in finding solutions and addressing these issues head on. As a Black man who loves American University and as GLC President, I will not stop until clear solutions have been established to correct these unthinkable wrongdoings.
The Graduate Leadership Council stands in arms with the American University Student Government in finding solutions and providing concrete ways for Black students, such as myself, and all students of color to feel protected, valued, and respected on campus at all times. Students should not have to attend school in fear of being racially discriminated against. This is not the AU that I knew when I was a freshman at American, and I am saddened to know that this is the AU that so many Black students and students of color must face. The time to act is now, and the GLC will make sure that we provide solutions to contribute against this ongoing fight for racial equality. In President Kerwin’s memo, he stated, “There will be opportunities to discuss our expectations and our concerns during a series of events, entitled Courageous Conversations, in the weeks to come”. The GLC will be a part of these conversations, and I encourage any graduate student that wants to get involved to please reach out to the GLC. The time to act is now, and we must protect our university to ensure that both undergraduate and graduate students have the ability to experience a rewarding and incredible college experience.
In Solidarity and Respectfully,
Gordon-Andrew Lee Fletcher, Esq.