Concerned Student 1950 responds to Interim Vice Chancellor\'s letter

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COLUMBIA - In a letter penned to Concerned Student 1950, Chuck Henson, Interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity says he has been "seeking out" members of the student activist organization, but they haven't accepted his invitation.

Concerned Student 1950 tweeted from its official account around 3 p.m. Friday stating, "Members of CS1950 have met with VC Henson, attended the 'Working Group,' and are present in many spaces. We believe in shared governance!"

It is currently unclear when the meeting took place.

The group then went on to state specific people that are a part of Concerned Student 1950 that it says have actually met with Interim Vice Chancellor Henson. The tweet also stated "We'll continue to do so. Change comes from working together."

Concerned Student 1950 recently re-issued its list of demands, saying only two of them have been met since they were issued first four months ago.

"Be clear, these demands are not to be seen as "request", but obligatory to addressing and dismantling institutional racism at our school," the organization said.

Part of Henson's letter reads: 

"Had you accepted my invitation to meet face-to-face, you would already know the answers to most of the issues raised in your recent communication. As many other concerned students already know, much of what can be done to transform our culture is already underway. We have begun the work of generations by educating our fellow citizens in Columbia, our senior leaders, faculty, staff and new students on inclusion, diversity, implicit bias and the history of the African-American experience in Missouri. We are improving our ways of hiring faculty and staff by, among other things, requiring diverse candidate pools of people qualified to teach and work at a tier 1 research institution and instituting mandatory hiring committee education. We are already working almost all of the issues raised in your communication. These are the things that university administration can do for the benefit of everyone in our on- and off-campus community."

One of student protester's demands includes "targeted hiring" to have 10 percent of the University of Missouri faculty be black.

Henson addresses this in his letter by saying, "There are things, like hiring faculty or staff, or admitting students based on protected characteristics to meet a numerical target, will not and cannot be done. It is against state and federal law. It also is a bad model for a sustainable community."

He said the student leaders have a direct opportunity to work with faculty staff and administrators.

"You also would know, had we met, that I created a permanent part of the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity called The Working Group. The point of The Working Group is transparency, access and input - your input into how we transform our culture and improve our relationship," Henson said. 

He closes his letter by saying, "If you sincerely want better relationships, the time for demands, threats and arbitrary deadlines is over -- you don't need them. I hope you'll join me with other concerned students in The Working Group to get down to the work of building."

Other demands from Concerned Student 1950 include an expansion of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, a 10-year plan to increase retention rates of marginalized students, and a statue of Lloyd Gaines to be placed on the quadrangle where the tent city was in Fall of 2015.