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Professor coalition calls for racial justice on Ohio campuses

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The Midwest Coalition of the American Association of University Professors published a letter July 15 calling for universities to further address systemic racism on campuses. A virtual press conference held July 23 further addressed the concerns outlined in the letter.

AAUP openly asked for university administrators to realize the racial inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the “systematic deployment of racist violence and police brutality against Black, Indigenous and Latinx people.”

The letter came a week after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced some international students would have to leave or face deportation if universities transitioned to remote learning for the fall semester. The decision was eventually reversed after legal action from universities nationwide.

“The ICE order intervened inappropriately in educational policy and put both student lives and university bottom lines at risk,” the AAUP letter said. 

AAUP expressed concern over how existing racial disparities that have worsened by the coronavirus pandemic may converge with the racism of policing both in the letter and during the press conference. 

“We fear that enforcement of COVID-based public health protocol will reify racial disparities and even inflict racist violence against BIPOC students, workers and community members,” the AAUP said.

Concerns for austerity during the coronavirus crisis potentially leading to job losses rather than cuts to high paying administrative salaries were also raised. The AAUP said that cuts would most likely include women and people of color who hold non-tenured positions.

The AAUP asked that universities enact various actions including:

  • “Commit to an ethical emergency plan, developed with the participation of workers, that ensures the most economically vulnerable keep their jobs and wages. No mandatory furloughs, layoffs of firings.”
  • “Redistribute police budgets to fund unarmed safety workers and to support other initiatives that would benefit the most vulnerable on our campuses, especially concerning the safety and wellbeing of BIPOC members of campus.”
  • “Protect the rights of international students by guaranteeing the access to courses they need housing, health care, and medical and legal support.”

Twenty-three campus AAUP chapters as well as three state chapters signed the letter — including the Ohio chapter. Ohio campus chapter signatories included Ohio University, Columbus State University, Wright State University, Miami University, University of Cincinnati and John Carroll University.

The full letter and list of signatories can be read here.

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