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Student-led Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk group issues diversity-related demands for KU; here's some more context


A group of about a dozen, mostly black Kansas University students that carried signs onto the stage and temporarily took over Wednesday’s town hall forum on race read a list of 15 demands they had of KU.

I didn’t have much information on those demands in my story about the forum. They were only one scene in an event that lasted more than two hours and included many voices from students and faculty of all colors. (Also, the woman who read the demands on stage refused to give me her name or answer any questions about them afterward.)

Thursday, the group — which called itself by the hashtag it’s using on Twitter #rockchalkinvisiblehawk — published its demands in a tweet from @InvisibleHawks. Here's their list, word for word.

Below some of the demands involving issues I'm familiar with, I’ve added, in parenthesis, additional notes and links I think are helpful for context.

Demands for the University of Kansas Governing Bodies

1. Director of OMA hired by December

(Former Office of Multicultural Affairs director Blane Harding left KU in May. Precious Porras has been interim director since.)

2. Mandatory, intense “inclusion and belonging” training for all levels of students, staff, faculty, and administration

3. Issue Campus Climate Survey by February 2016

(The comprehensive survey aims to assess KU’s climate in the following areas: respect and collegiality; communication, collaboration and cooperation; overall work and academic environment; and diversity, equity and inclusion, according to KU’s Office of Diversity and Equity. KU has contracted with Rankin & Associates Consulting to conduct the survey, and it’s currently scheduled to be sent out in fall 2016.)

4. Train and rehire IOA staff and implement accountability measures

(KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access is charged with investigating reports of discrimination on campus — including sexual harassment and sexual violence — and recommending disciplinary action. Director Jane McQueeny resigned in October, and KU currently is searching for a replacement. The office still has four employees. )

5. Increase consistent hiring of diverse faculty and staff

(It’s not labeled as a diversity hiring program, but KU’s “Hiring for Excellence” initiative aims to get more candidates of color on campus and, ultimately, hired. I wrote about the effort earlier this year, and administrators said increasing faculty diversity is a challenging goal but credited the initiative with making some progress so far.)

6. Increase the percentage of underrepresented domestic and undocumented students

(KU’s overall enrollment went up this fall. Within the new freshman class, the number of Hispanic students went up 10 percent, the number of multiracial students stayed about the same, and the number of black freshmen went down 27 percent. The number of black students in the freshman class is still higher than it was several years ago. KU's most recent retention and graduation report is available on the Office of Institutional Research and Planning website.)

7. Immediate amendments to Senate election code

(Some students have complained that a Student Senate decision to raise the spending cap for elections prevents minority students from running for office.)

8. Increase aid and assistance to active military and veterans

(The number of vets at KU is going up. I just reported some numbers this week, along with plans to build a new Student Veterans Center inside Summerfield Hall once the business school moves out.)

9. Establish team of multicultural counselors to specifically address severe mental illnesses and the needs of students of color by Fall 2016

10. Ban concealed weapons from campus

(Under Kansas law, concealed weapons must be allowed on public university campuses beginning in July 2017. The Kansas Board of Regents currently is seeking input from KU and other universities to develop a policy covering how the new law will be implemented.)

11. Remove all professors who assault, sexually harass, or engage in abusive relationships with students. Apply this policy retroactively as well, specifically to Dr. [name redacted by the Journal-World]. Immediate expulsion of those that commit sexual assault.

(Several years ago a female student accused the professor listed by name of sexually harassing her, and she was unhappy with how KU handled her complaint. KU does not release information about individual investigations.)

12. Open investigation in Grant, Starling et al. case as hate crime beginning with IOA

(KU Black Student Union president Kynnedi Grant said during Wednesday’s forum that she and several black friends were physically assaulted and called a racial slur at an off-campus house party on Halloween. A police report was not filed, Grant said Wednesday. It’s unclear if the women filed a report with KU IOA, though Grant posted an account of the event on her Facebook page earlier this week. After the forum, Grant declined to answer my questions about the incident.)

UPDATE: On Friday, Lawrence police confirmed they are investigating the incident as a battery and aggravated assault case.

13. Reopen investigation into the murder of Rick “Tiger” Dowdell

(Dowdell, a 19-year-old black Lawrence resident, was fatally shot during a gun battle with police near Ninth and Rhode Island streets in July 1970, a summer filled with race-fueled violence at KU and throughout the community. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation determined that Dowdell had exchanged fire with a Lawrence police officer and that a bullet from the officer’s gun killed Dowdell, according to previous Journal-World reports. A coroner’s inquest found that Dowdell’s death was justified. KU does not have jurisdiction over homicide investigations.)

14. Establish Multicultural Student Government independent of current University of Kansas Student Senate

15. Thorough plan of action from Administration by January 19, 2016

A group of students identifying itself as Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk takes the stage and reads a list of diversity and inclusion related demands for Kansas University during KU's town hall forum on race Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union, as KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, far right, who was moderating the forum, looks on. Sign language interpreter Kim Bates, left, translated throughout the event.

A group of students identifying itself as Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk takes the stage and reads a list of diversity and inclusion related demands for Kansas University during KU's town hall forum on race Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union, as KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, far right, who was moderating the forum, looks on. Sign language interpreter Kim Bates, left, translated throughout the event. by Sara Shepherd


Jean Robart 2 years, 5 months ago

They want to increase the numbers of illegal immigrant on on campus? Hmmm don't think so. Do they know the meaning of illegal?

They want to reopen a 45 year old death investigation that has already been settled with a verdict? I don't think so.

Some of their "demands" make sense, but they need to realize that along with what is called "social justice" is the adherence to laws, city, state and federal.

The KU I loved when I lived in Lawrence makes me sad now.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 5 months ago

Amazingly, this sounds quite a bit like the KU I knew (and loved, except when they made me go to class) when I attended first in 1968. Activism then centered on Vietnam, but the racial climate was very similar.

That the kids are engaging in social activism is a good sign, in my opinion. Channeling it into useful change is the challenge. I hope we're all up to it.

Clara Westphal 2 years, 5 months ago

Illegal students shouldn't be at KU in the first place.

KU students have enough classes to take without being forced into another required class they want everyone to take.

Bob Forer 2 years, 5 months ago

"the woman who read the demands on stage refused to give me her name or answer any questions about them afterward"

Very disappointing. It seems to me that a lot of "progressive" groups in today's America are lead by neophytes who have absolutely no experience in social activism.

A good start would be for them to read "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinksy. Several leaders of the far right movement admit to reading Alinksy, and have adopted many of his tactics.

As the son of civil rights activists (both deceased) who began their activism in the late 1940s, , I can tell you that many of those tactics were followed by Dr. King even before Alinsky wrote his book, and that such tactics tend to be successful.

Brett McCabe 2 years, 5 months ago

It's a sad day when a bunch of Jayhawks are mimicking a bunch of Tigers.

While I support the idea of the forum, and thoughtful communication between the "university" and the students, much of this rings a bit hollow for this progressive.

Carolyn Simpson 2 years, 5 months ago

As an alumna and parent of a current student I am glad KU took the initiative of the town hall meeting. From the demands, it appears race relations are not the issue they are at MU. Sexual harassment and sexual assault is a continuing big problem at KU. I hope it is taken more seriously and people are fired and arrested more frequently.

Marc Wilborn 2 years, 5 months ago

Let's just hope that we do not forget the due process of law in any new procedures.

Bob Smith 2 years, 5 months ago

Due process has no meaning to the new totalitarians.

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 5 months ago

They are all snowflakes. That's not a reference to skin color. That's a reference to the fact that if the "temperature" goes up they all melt.

They feel KU provides an unsafe environment? No. Female students in Afghanistan are in an unsafe environment.

Newsflash students: LIFE is a micro-aggression.

I've been an executive search consultant for over 30 years. Over the last few days, I have received emails from HR directors throughout the United States. The message? They would never hire any of these people who have demonstrated that they cannot deal with adversity.

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

Are you refuring to the two top executives from MU who just "melted away" ? These are college students who have deposed institutional kings ! I could understand why an HR person would be hesitant to hire someone who might be sharp enough to remove them someday, for not meeting their standards of human behavior .

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 5 months ago

The resignation of those administrators says more about their lack of spine than it says about the ability of the students to deal with life.

Someone referred to these events as the Benjamin Button Education System. It used to be that the adults were in college and the babies were in Kindergarten. Looks to me like the babies are on campus.

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

To those who are critical of these college students, I would ask you to remember how socially skilled you were in your late teens to early twenties ? I don't think that these students are doing this without names,....to be anonymous . How anonymous is anyone who is photographed speaking in a public meeting at KU, as these people were, etc.? Maybe they see the media thru a cynical lens;...a cynical lens, which is not entirely "undeserved", Dylan's "Ballad of A Thin Man" sort of says it all . "Something is happenng and you don't know what it is, do you Mr Jones?" I get Bobs Forers' thoughts from above........maybe someday?........ but I think that the purpose of the moment of these college students, is not to play by the rules of those whom they don't feel or think of, as being responsive to doing things in the acceptable way to themselves or other students . One might have distast for their methods but they do have potentially valid conscers that need addressing by the college administration.....or by whomever (?) .

Armen Kurdian 2 years, 5 months ago

It doesn't give you carte blanche to act like an idiot. Shouting down and interrupting organized assemblies are becoming calling cards of the radical left, and that needs to STOP. I'm tired of trying to rationally discuss issues with people like this who are selfish, self-entitled pansies who demand everything else be done for them, and blame the system for every single problem real or imagined, and are incapable of standing on their own two feet without demanding this or demanding that. They sound like a bunch of Hollywood prissies who throw hissy-fits when there's one too many pumps in their mocha latte. And on MY campus! They can shut the hell up & color.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 5 months ago

Oh, Armen, you have neglected to remember the Fox News instances in which the anchors literally screamed and insulted the "leftists" being interviewed. Do NOT make the mistake (I assume this is a mistake, otherwise you have completely left rational thinking in the dust) of thinking that the "left" is the only guilty party in discussions. You have apparently not watched any CSPAN broadcasts of Congressional hearings. You have apparently not seen the Donald in all his glory.

And how, pray tell, does anyone achieve a goal in social circumstances without making a demand of someone else? "Pretty please with sugar on top" ain't the way, and you know it.

Greg DiVilbiss 2 years, 5 months ago

Examples please (Other than Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly) Who are commentators.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 5 months ago

I gave examples, you amplified. What else?

Bob Forer 2 years, 5 months ago

My point was simply why waste time going through the "motions" of social activism in a slip shod amateurish way, where the abject lack of competent leadership and direction will invariably mean failure? Regardless of the "Rules" enunciated by Alinksy, there are really no formal rules to play by, other than the fact that if one is going to seize a very ripe issue of social and racial justice, one has an obligation to those who came before them and those who will come after them to be effective. The cause is not individual, but entirely collective and thoroughly social. All of us have a moral obligation to stamp out the vestiges of racism that still permeate our cultures. And there is nothing that will hurt and discredit a social movement more than participants who are unwilling or unable to articulate theirs grievances to the public competently, proudly and with vigor.

Shawn Boultinghouse 2 years, 5 months ago

Do they realize how silly most of their demands are? I think they just wanted to get their picture in the paper and maybe their face on TV.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 5 months ago

Do you realize how silly your own blogs are? I think you just want to stir the pot and get your picture on the internet.

And, again, I ask you, what is the meaning of the American flag in your avatar?

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 5 months ago

Greg, I'm all for activism. These demands are unrealistic. My answer would be, no. If you don't want to be a student at this university, you are welcome to leave. From what I have seen and heard, from multiple news sources, these groups are not interested in a dialogue or freedom of speech unless they are the ones doing the talking. This is fascism in its glory and I, for one, will not sit back and be silent while these "activists" shout well meaning speakers down just so they can make their list of demands. Let them get on the agenda and conduct themselves in a civilized manner or shut up and sit down.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 5 months ago

In the main, Scott, I agree with your sentiments. However, at times (like in the current Presidential campaign) one has to deal with rudeness, silliness, and outright idiocy to get tot he meat of an issue. I agree that these things you mention are counterproductive, but the root problems need to be identified, "cut from the herd" and addressed by cooler heads. Most of what they are "demanding is out of line, but there are deep divides that need to be addressed, not by acceding to silliness, but by conversation from both sides resulting in an understanding. Civilization does demand that, from both sides, wouldn't you agree?

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 5 months ago

I am all about a dialogue but these groups are not interested in that. Just ask them. The campi of this country have bent over backwards to accommodate minorities of any persuasion you care to name, be it gay, transgender, or race. There is bad behavior by ALL members of our society whether it be gay, transgender, black, white, yellow, male or female. The sooner these children come to understand that we all get offended by one thing or another from time to time, the sooner they can stop being victims, move on and become productive members of our society. The best dose of reality these children could receive is someone to tell them their demands are ridiculous and the answer is no.

Shawn Boultinghouse 2 years, 5 months ago

Well Greg, why would they make some of these silly demands? Please enlighten me. It seams to me they are not getting their way and are attempting to force their agenda down the University's throat.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 5 months ago

I refer you to my previous post in reply to your comment. Therein lies the answer to your question and your observation.

Bob Smith 2 years, 5 months ago

  1. Mandatory self-criticism sessions for all White devils. 17. Establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. 18. Pie.

Chris Bohling 2 years, 5 months ago

It's obviously a very good idea to ask public administrators to break the law

Greg Cooper 2 years, 5 months ago

Just a couple of things, students:

"7. Immediate amendments to Senate election code (Some students have complained that a Student Senate decision to raise the spending cap for elections prevents minority students from running for office.)"

There is in place at KU a specific political system of nomination and election of officers. The way to change who is elected is the same as in outside politics: form a coalition, campaign on attainable issues, and win. This includes gathering enough money from those who support you to mount a meaningful campaign. That you have fewer supporters may mean that your issues are less important to the majority than to you.

"13. Reopen investigation into the murder of Rick “Tiger” Dowdell."

This is not a University issue, but a legal issue best taken up in the courts. Too, you have what you believe to be legitimate issues with the University, and making a laundry list of all the wrongs you believe to have been perpetrated on minorities in Lawrence dilutes the importance of your University-related issues. Fight the right issues in the right arenas for maximum effect and minimum dilution.

Bob Smith 2 years, 5 months ago

As Iowahawk said, "Campuses today are a theatrical mashup of 1984 and Lord of the Flies, performed by people who don't understand these references."

Richard Aronoff 2 years, 5 months ago

College students are living up to all the names they’ve been called this week.

Exhibit A: Protest supporting black students canceled because it was organized by white students. MRCTV reports: An organized protest at Cornell University supporting racial equality has been canceled after a black student group complained about the “lack of people of color in the planning and attendance” of the event, which appears to have been organized by a white student.

Exhibit B: Student government bans 9/11 remembrance because it would make campus “unsafe.” Campus Reform reports: The undergraduate student government at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities rejected a resolution for a moment of recognition on future anniversaries of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. … “The passing of this resolution might make a space that is unsafe for students on campus even more unsafe,” said [a student government representative].

Exhibit C: Student government shuts down campus group that wants to cheer up dying people because they don’t like the club’s name. The College Fix reports: A student proposal at Pitzer College to start a DreamCatchers club to cheer up terminally ill hospice patients was “tabled indefinitely” by the school’s student government after its members expressed concerns that the term “dreamcatchers” was a form of cultural appropriation toward Native Americans.

Exhibit D: Asian student shamed and silenced for saying “black people can be racist” and asking her peers to look beyond skin color to see people’s hearts. The Daily Caller reports: An Asian student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, was shutdown in mid-speech during a campus protest Thursday, when she said that “black people can be racist.” (She was referencing an incident that involved an African-American man shouting at her and her friends, "Go back where you came from.")

Robert Greenwood 2 years, 5 months ago

As an alumna and parent of a current student I was happy to see that the KU administration acted quickly to have a town hall meeting. I am equally glad to see activism still alive and well on campus. It may not always be an enjoyable process, but it is important to have this discussion.

Nathan Anderson 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm pretty sure their version of demand #2 would be to indoctrinate students, which would be a 1st amendment violation.

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 5 months ago

As far as I am concerned the chickens are coming home to roost for higher education in this country. For years now the academic elite have taught student after student how unfair this country is. The rich are responsible for all of the evil in our society. They (the students) really have no chance because the deck is stacked against them. Slavery never ended, it just took on a different look and if you're a black conservative, you aren't down with the struggle,you're an Uncle Tom. This country was founded on a lie and freedom is what the "White Man" says it is. This was never a great country, it is corrupt, has always been corrupt and capitalism is actually stealing from the under privileged of the world. The U.S. is an imperialist nation that has spent its entire existence oppressing the developing nations of the world for ugly profit.

Now, they see that they can intimidate the very institutions that have empowered them. Congratulations, KU. Who among you has the guts to stand up to this fascist movement. This at a university whose chancellor is a woman of color. Good luck, chumps. I, personally, wouldn't negotiate with children. I never have and I wouldn't begin now.

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 5 months ago

It has been my experience that negotiation has to be made from a position of strength. What strength can these children exercise to bolster their position. Refuse to come to class? Refuse to pay tuition? Restrict others from attending classes. Violence? Starve themselves to death? Really, when you look at it in the cold hard light of day, they really hold no strength at all. They are merely loud mouths and if they choose to engage in civil disobedience, they can be prosecuted. We'll see how long that lasts when Mom and Dad have to make a trip to Lawrence to bail their child out of the Douglas County Correctional Facility. It's time to make a stand KU. Don't be intimidated. You have the most accommodating campus in the country, save UC Berkeley.

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

The most notable deed of human beings, is our "invention of tools". In the case of the students at MU, they have invented the $2,000,000 hammer ( the "we're not going to play at Arrowhead unless you address our concerns" ) to get the MU administrations' attention . The outgoing MU administration admitted, on the TV, of choosing to previously to ignore racial complaints . There will always be white people ( I am white ) who will "bigot-think" that "black people are trying to take over everything" . I heard it about Obamas' election, I heard it about the MU events of recent times . Which implies that only white people should be in control of everything ? I will simply say that it wasn't black folks who shot up Columbine, Sandy Hook, the Aurora movie theater, the JCC in OP, or who ignored Bill Clintons warnings about Osama Binladin, which lead to the twin towers, two never ending wars and the Arab Springs' destabilization of the whole Middle East ( who....but a couple of white guys could do all that ? ) ) but the prejudice see what they wish to see and wish to & ignore the social plight of others, who suffer from discriminations' ugly hand . I guess that white guys aren't always perfect......so ?

Bob Smith 2 years, 5 months ago

It isn't white folks who are murdering their brothers in wholesale lots up in Chicago.

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

No Al Capone, Meyer Lansky, Bugs Moran, Frank Nitty ? Where wa The Saint Valentines Day Massacure held ? The poor are just still being poor ? The color just changed...that's all . Gangs do what they do and if there was not a market for what they do they wouldn't do it . So who buys their stuff ? The poor ?

Bob Smith 2 years, 5 months ago

Al Capone and those other folks you name have been dead for a long time, Michael. We need to deal with what is happening now.

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

Exactly, a new group of the poor who replaced the old group who have been dead for a long time but their living relatives have gone main stream and are not distinguishable from other Caucasians and are no longer outsiders . Italians, Jews, Irish could marry anyone's daughter which wasn't always the case .

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 5 months ago

Michael, I don't understand your point. One of the complaints at MU was over a Swastika. That is a symbol of Arian hate toward Jews. Nobody is saying black people are trying to take over everything. This bigot-think mentality that you allude to is not pervasive in white society as you seem to think. For the record, bigotry is not restricted to white people. FYI, the young man on the hunger strike at MU that was leading the whole thing, and shouting "white privilege" comes from a 1% family. His father is an Executive VP for Union Pacific and earned $6.5M last year. Privilege my foot.

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

The Swastika Is also a symbol of the current, so called "white power movement". Good for the young man on his hunger strike who came from a 1% household . At least he is aware that the rest of the world beyond the 1% rich background that he came from are alive and deserve respect as human beings . It is true that some black people automatically assume that all whites are racist . Many people assume many things .........without bothering to listen to their own words or observe ones' done deeds . It is true that those who wish to dictate to others had better find themselves in a position of power to deal from, in order to do it.......but that doesn't explain their need to go to those extremes ? What happened at MU was not the end of the world ! A couple of administrative slackers were forced into seeking other jobs,......as if anybody would be in a hurry to hire them, at this point .

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 5 months ago

@MIchaelKort - You don't know anything about the Swastika and how it got there as neither do I. This whole 1% is garbage as well. You are another, "I hate America," wannabe, that wants to blame the problems of the under privileged on rich, white people. If there are people out there like Clarence Thomas, Condolezza Rice, and Dr. Ben Carson, to name a few, I refuse to believe that "white privilege" is keeping anyone from achieving whatever they desire. If you don't like where you are in life, take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself, why?

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 5 months ago

If "Tiger" Dowdell had been home that night, minding his own business, he'd probably be alive today.

Marc Wilborn 2 years, 5 months ago

Didn't listen to Bill Clinton's warnings regarding Osama Bin Laden? Where do you get that? How about Clinton and Rwanda? Geez, opinions and facts.

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB147/ Try this and note that even Bushs' own people were trying to get his attention on this in January 2001, of that year and were ignored until 9/4 of that year . Too little....to late to stop 9/11 ! Bush was good at making campaign buss jokes about Clinton trying to shoot camels in their rear ends with cruse missiles, in regard to an attempted by Clinton of a cruse missile strike on Osama that failed .

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

Clinton, to his credit, stopped the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, while the republicans chanted " Mr President....what's your exit plan " .....not that it stopped the preppie bush from not having an exit plan in Iraq, before removing saddam ". Can the US control/police the whole world ?

Bob Smith 2 years, 5 months ago

What if the poop swastika was a performance art piece? Shouldn't everyone be admiring the bold, insightful nature of the rebellious artist?

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

I guess that there is a difference between a perfomance piece and a hate message designed to intimidate other people . Of course most artists sign their own work with their own name ( and not some false name or no name ) but then people sending hate messages prefer to sneak around anonymously . Go to Isreal if you want to do swastika art or to some Islamist state if you want to cartoon religious figures. . I'm sure that your work will get you noticed but you might mot like the reception committe afterwords .

Michael Kort 2 years, 5 months ago

Better yet, go to Germany and do a so called swastika performance art . I think it is a guaranteed jail visit .

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 5 months ago

You prove our point, oh naïve one. In our country you don't go to jail for this, currently. However, if you acquiesce to groups like these Rock Chalk Idiot Hawks, freedom of expression is gone and what is left is fascism and totalitarianism. Be very careful what you criticize. You may find yourself without that right. What you and a lot of these well meaning mush heads are missing is that freedom of speech means allowing someone to stand front and center, spew vile words that you would spend a lifetime opposing, and allow them to finish their last sentence without interruption. THAT is freedom of speech. That is what those who have died for this country, did so defending. THAT is what we celebrate on the 4th of July. THAT is what we celebrate on Veteran's Day. If one person is silenced. If one person is refused the right of free expression then it is refused for all of us and all of us can be silenced.

Mike George 2 years, 5 months ago

There is one common thread among your posts - poor spelling and grammar....

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