Black Student Union petitions to increase diversity in NIU faculty

By Jacqueline Evans

The Black Student Union (BSU) has pledged their support for the petition to increase ethnically diverse faculty at NIU, created through BSU member Sarah Theodore-Young.

“The petition was an idea I developed after speaking with a group of friends about their many grievances about their education,” Theodore-Young said. “[We felt that] most of the African American friends that we entered into college with did not make it past their first semester.”

Theodore-Young, in correlation with the BSU, researched retention rates of African-American NIU students, which led them to take action.

“As of 2007, African American students represent nearly 20 percent of the student body, and yet only 3 percent of the faculty on campus is African American. Latinos represent 5 percent of the student body and yet they’re are only 3 percent of the faculty that is Latino,” Theodore-Young said. “These numbers were shocking enough to encourage us to take action.”

The goal of the petition is to increase diversity at NIU by reaching out to the many facets of the NIU community.

“The petition is called Diversity at NIU and it was written with the goal of increasing the diversity of the student body by supporting minority resources on campus and addressing the main roadblocks that minority groups face on campus,” said BSU President Deldric Henderson.

The petition outlines three issues that required the petition and the eight demands.

“The issues we felt led to the petition are the lack of diversity in [NIU] faculty members, the lack of funding to minority resource centers on campus and the unfair practices surrounding NIU’s social events policy,” Theodore-Young said.

“We know that if NIU fully supports its minority students, it will have no trouble meeting our terms,” Henderson said.

Theodore-Young and the BSU said they look forward to gaining the support of the NIU community.

“The Center for Black Studies, Latino Resource Center and Black Student Union have offered their full support,” Theodore-Young said. “As we are in our early stages, we are still looking for more organizations to help. We’re calling on all organizations for support no matter what color.”

Those involved with the petition said they feel that it will benefit NIU in various ways.

“This will ultimately be beneficial to NIU financially in that it will be able to attract students who are looking for a university that gives minority groups their full support, and it will help NIU retain the more than 40 percent of minority students that do not enroll past their freshman year,” said BSU vice president Farouk Olayiwola. “I think that students will stand together and agree that anything that is good for diversity is good for this university,”

The signing of the petition started on Monday at the Martin Luther King Day Celebration at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 1201 Twombly Road.

The petition will be presented to the university when the goal of 5,000 signatures is reached.