At march, MU professor says C.S. 1950 goals need clarification

1 year 8 months 1 week ago November 15, 2015 Nov 15, 2015 Sunday, November 15 2015 Sunday, November 15, 2015 3:39:00 PM CST in News
By: James Packard, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - A Univeristy of Missouri astrophysics professor organized a march Sunday to show support for the goals of Concerned Student 1950.

Angela Speck said the march was intended to highlight the general ideas the student group was fighting for.

"There's a lot of people who want to help, but don't know how. A lot of people who just want to show that they care about the students and care about thier goals," Speck said.

Speck's march would start in MU's Peace Park, work its way through the Francis Quadrangle, around Jesse Hall, across Carnahan Quadrangle, down Rollins Street and end at the Black Culture Center.

"Hopefully we'll have a good crowd today, and we'll start some conversations and collaborations that will take us in the right direction," Speck said.

Speck said the march was part of her plan to spark change on campus, in congruence with the general ideas of Concerned Student 1950.

"The basic ethos behind them is great. In some cases, there's some clarification that's needed," Speck said.

Among the Concerned Student 1950 list of demands, was and increase in the amount of black faculty and staff at MU to 10% by the 2017-2018 school year. According to MU's most recent statistics (from Fall 2014), 5.8% of full-time faculty and staff were black.

"I think it's extremely commendable to increase the number of black faculty, but the time scale for that, I mean even just the time scale for hiring in faculty positions, it takes about a year to do a faculty hire."

She said it would also be important for the university to hire diverse faculty members based on merit, not just their physical diversity.

"We need to think very carefully about, okay, what is it that we're looking for in this person, and how do we judge that they're good enough?" Speck said.

"We need to go there anyway, the landscape of education has changed," Speck said. "They need to have some of the skills that you have to have to be a good academic... but also someone who's interested in how you bring social justice into the classroom."

Speck, who is also chair of the Diversity Enhancement Committee for faculty council, said an immediate change she's working on is diversity curriculum.

"Curriculum is entirely on the faculty, administrators have nothing to do with it. So that's the one piece that faculty can actually have some influence on," Speck said. 

Speck said she hopes to continue her effort of community outreach, and encourage all students to involve themselves in science and physics.

Her march Sunday, she said, was a start for change on the whole campus. She said she thought about 300 people came to the march. Speck said Sunday night she hoped she organize another event later in the school year.

"I'm hoping that people have made some connections, had some conversation on this walk, seen that they're not alone in wanting to help," Speck said.

"That way we can start to build up some of these ideas of what we can do, because if this was easy to fix we'd have fixed it by now."

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