Black students at Kansas University burned copies of the University Daily Kansan Wednesday afternoon after being told that the newspaper would not capitalize "black" when referring to students of African-American descent.
Derek Schmidt, fall Kansan editor, recently reversed the newspaper's policy of using a capital "B" when referring to black students. In the first issue of the paper, Aug. 22, Schmidt said he had decided that the Kansan would lowercase "black" during the fall semester.
The policy conforms with the Associated Press Stylebook, a standard guide followed by many newspapers, including the Kansan and the Journal-World.
But Ardra Tippett, a student senator, said she is a member of the African-American culture, not a color found in a box of crayons.
"If you want to call me black, call me cocoa brown with a capital `C,'" Tippett told Schmidt in the Kansan offices in Stauffer-Flint Hall.
SCHMIDT SAID Wednesday that he appreciated the students' visit but he would stand by his decision. Attempts to reach Schmidt today were unsuccessful, but a story in today's Kansan reported that Schmidt is reviewing the policy.
Tippett said she was "officially offended" by Schmidt's decision to refer to people from her culture as "blacks."
"We are officially offended. We pay to publish the Kansan every day," she said. Student fees pay part of the cost of publishing the daily student newspaper.
The students' protest was part of a "We Have Not Forgotten" rally that began in front of Strong Hall.
Cory Anderson, an Omaha, Neb., junior, said black students have not forgotten conflicts that occurred during the spring semester, alluding to a complaint from Ann Dean, a black student who reported that a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity made racially insulting remarks to her when she was delivering a pizza to the fraternity March 30.
"THERE ARE a lot of problems that we have to solve on this campus," Anderson said, kicking off the rally about 1:15 p.m. More than 50 students attended the rally, which ended with the burning of newspapers near Wescoe Hall.
Darren Fulcher, a Kansas City, Mo., senior, said minority students want to see a more active Office of Minority Affairs that will be able to recruit and retain students.
"What we'd like to see is an office that will be able to function for us," Fulcher said.
John Lewis, a Kansas City, Kan., senior, said students also would like to see representation in the KU Alumni Association and a multicultural center.
"Many of our black alumni are in prominent positions," Lewis said. "But they don't want to contribute money because they know it will go to white students. The money is not channeled to black students."