Black students at Kansas University voiced their frustrations and concerns Thursday night to representatives of local police departments and to university officials.
The overriding message at the forum was that the university needs to act on its promises to improve the campus climate at KU.
The forum, sponsored by Black Men of Today, featured panelists Milton Scott, assistant director of admissions; Cory Anderson, member of Black Men of Today; Ron Olin, Lawrence police chief; and Jim Denney, director of the KU police department.
Mark McCormick, Wichita senior and organizer of the forum, served as moderator.
DURING AN emotional two hours, students expressed their general distrust of the university system. Although the forum was organized to generally discuss the problems of racism, discussion focused on a recent incident at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, where Ann E. Dean said she was struck and racially insulted by Matthew Willenborg.
"It is the university's responsibility to act upon this," said John Lewis, a member of Black Men of Today. "Ann's human rights were violated; her rights as a woman were violated; and her rights as a black person were violated."
Dean attended the forum but remained silent.
In an interview outside the forum, Dean said she planned to file a university complaint against Willenborg today. She also said she met with Lawrence police detectives Thursday. Police are continuing to investigate the incident.
"THIS IS NOT just a civil rights case," said Dean, a St. Louis sophomore. "He violated my rights as a woman and as a human being. He made me feel like I wasn't human."
Dean was trying to deliver two pizzas to the SAE fraternity when Willenborg, a St. Louis freshman, allegedly grabbed one of the pizzas from her and threw it to the ground. Dean also reported that Willenborg made a racist comment to her. Willenborg and Bryce Petty, SAE president, have denied that Dean was racially insulted.
"I've heard about three different stories from them," Dean said Thursday night.
Her complaint against Willenborg will be filed at the Office of Student Life, which will review the complaint and appoint a hearing panel if the university determines it has jurisdiction. The complaint will be filed as non-academic misconduct, said Caryl Smith, dean of student life.
AMID ALLEGATIONS that KU's administration does not care about minority students, David Ambler, vice chancellor of student affairs, told students that the administration did care about this incident and the everyday campus climate for minority students.
"There are no magic wands that can make people love each other or respect each other," Ambler said. "The only wand we have at the university is education. We are trying to develop pro-active programs to respond to these types of issues."
After the forum, Ambler said he understood students' concerns.
"But there are no quick fixes if we believe in justice, if we believe in the rule of the law, if we believe in being fair. If this falls within our jurisdiction, we will take appropriate action when the university's rules and regulations are broken."
McCormick said he was pleased with the results of the forum, which was attended by about 75 people.
"I am so happy that so many people came," McCormick said. "I didn't expect this many people. The way you deal with racism is education, but only in part. When you know that it was your race that started civilization, you respect yourself too much to violate yourself or violate others. When other people know that, they will respect you."