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Rutgers’ First Black President Says University’s Name Will Stay

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Jonathan Holloway, who last week became the first Black president in Rutgers University’s 254 year history, said he does not plan on changing the school’s name, which honors a man who owned slaves, NJ.com reports.

What We Know:

  • “We are not going to change the name of the university,” Holloway said. “That does not mean I’m opposed to having a conversation about it.”
  • Rutgers University is named after Henry Rutgers, a Revolutionary War hero and philanthropist from New York City who was also a slave owner.
  • “The reason we’re not going to change the name is that names have value that exceed someone’s existence,” Holloway said. “If I were to walk around feeling bludgeoned by every name I see, I couldn’t get out of bed.” Holloway added, “My existence, my humanity, my complexity, cannot be reduced by the fact that Rutgers was a slave owner, that he could not imagine me. That’s his problem.”
  • As calls for racial equality have picked up within the past few months, Rutgers students have begun signing a petition to change three of the university’s halls – Hardenbergh Hall, Frelinghuysen Hall and Milledoler Hall – named after three former university presidents who were slave owners and anti-abolitionists.
  • The schools history with slavery was reveled in the Scarlett and Black project in 2016.
  • Though President Holloway will not seek to change the university’s name, he is attempting to diversify Rutgers and its faculty. Many of the initial attempts will likely include back office changes. He said he hopes to have conversations with students about the campus’ past, but does not see the name as one that determines the school’s legacy.
  • He also noted that at least one of the halls students are seeking to rename is a “horrible” building on campus that could be replaced.

Rutgers has taken steps to honor former slaves and prominent Black figures, naming an athletic field after Frederick Douglass last spring, and in 2017 a residence hall and a library for Sojourner Truth and James Dickson Carr, Rutgers’ first Black graduate, respectively.

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Education

Michael Jordan Donates $1 Million to Morehouse College, Allocated to Enrich the School’s Journalism and Sports Program

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Michael Jordan and Nike’s Jordan Brand’s donation will enrich Morehouse College’s Journalism and Sports Program founded by actor and director Spike Lee and late sports columnist Ralph Wiley.

What We Know:

  • The contribution comes from Jordan and Jordan Brand’s Black Community Commitment, which grants monetary gifts to associations that preserve Black culture. Previously, the Black Community Commitment assisted the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Ida B. Wells Society.

 “We want to help people understand the truth of our past and help tell the stories that will shape our future,” said Jordan about the endowment.

  • Morehouse College wrote in a news release that the donation would make scholarships, technology, and educational programming more available to students. Monique Dozier, Morehouse’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement, expressed gratitude for the charity. Dozier declared the funds would ensure “equity, balance, and truth in the way sports stories are framed and the way the Black experience is contextualized within American history.”
  • The program, which Morehouse provides as a minor, focuses on the absence of Black leadership in sports journalism and athletics. So far, more than 80 students have added Journalism and Sports to their undergraduate studies.
  • Lee and Wiley came up with the idea after discussing the fact that sports journalism lacks minority reporters, despite many athletes being people of color. This motivated the two friends to find a way to fix this disparity. Eventually, officials from Lee’s alma mater entered the discussion, and they added a Journalism and Sports concentration to Morehouse’s curriculum in 2007. After some time, the university upgraded it to a minor.
  • Morehouse prepares their pupils with four core courses on reporting, interviewing, ethical fundamentals, online writing, social media, and sports coverage while using photography and videography as storytelling tools. Undergraduates may also partake in internships and register in elective courses that teach them topics such as African-American politics, history, psychology, and economics.

Moreover, Lee has stated that Jordan’s donation will create “a rich legacy of storytellers” to influence the representation of Black people on television and Hollywood. “We’ve got to tell our story,” Lee declared.

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Crime

The Bodies of 215 Children Discovered at Former Canadian School for Indigenous People

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Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock

Using ground-penetrating radar, officials were able to identify a mass gravesite with 215 bodies at the former Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia, Canada.

What We Know:

  • The Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia, was established by the Roman Catholic Church in 1890 and closed in 1978. Residential schools were a part of a nationwide Canadian initiative to assimilate indigenous children forcibly. Children between the ages of 4 and 15 were taken from their families and prohibited to practice any aspect of native culture.
  • The Tk’emlups te Secwépemc people announced the discovery. Chief Rosanne Casimir says some of the victims were as young as three years old. The causes and timing of their deaths are unknown.
  • Kamloops was one of the largest Residential Schools in Canada. In total, 150,000 children attended the institution. Former students recall unsanitary conditions and exposure to numerous contagious diseases.
  • The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calculates a minimum of 3,201 residential school deaths. This number is uncertain because of unaccounted deaths and destroyed files. In the case of Kamloops, a local museum archivist is working with the Royal British Columbia Museum to find a paper trail documenting the victims.

Mass graves at residential schools have long been an urban legend in indigenous communities across Canada. This discovery at Kamloops proves these suspicions to be true. “This is the reality of the genocide that was, and is, inflicted upon us as Indigenous peoples by the colonial state. Today we honor the lives of those children and hold prayers that they, and their families, may finally be at peace,” said Grand Chief Stewart Philip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.

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Education

Colorado Bans Legacy College Admissions

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Colorado’s public colleges will no longer contain a legacy section in their applications. It is the first state to enact such a ban.

What We Know:

  • Gov. Jared Polis signed this into effect on Tuesday. Alongside this, Polis also removed public colleges’ requirements that a first-year student must submit their SAT or ACT scores as part of their application. The new bill makes sending test results an option.
  • Polis passed these bills, so higher education access becomes more equitable. According to the legislation, 67% of middle-to-high-income students and 63% of white ones go straight to university from high school, but only 47% of low-income students and 42% of Latino pupils achieve the same goal.
  • Polis stated legacy admissions severely block first-generation college students, people of color, and illegal immigrants from receiving an education.

“Just because your parent or grandparent went to one of our colleges in Colorado, that doesn’t mean that you automatically get in… Because that could take the spot of somebody who is more worthy of that spot,” Polis said.

  • Richard Kahlenberg, director of K–12 equity and senior fellow at The Century Foundation, says this ban denies “affirmative action for the rich”.
  • Although Colorado became the first state to install these prohibitions, several universities and states already enacted similar measures. For example, Texas A&M University declared in 2004 they would end legacy admissions. Johns Hopkins University also terminated their requirement in 2020.
  • In 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed requirements into law that order institutions to disclose if they give preferential admissions to donor or alumni-related applicants. Earlier this month, Washington also declared their public universities would no longer look at test scores when deciding on admitting a student.

With the establishment of these new educational rules, obtaining a college degree will become much easier for students across all walks of life.

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