Image via Molly Savard
Last week, Boston University President Robert Brown wrote a letter in regard to the recent controversy around tweets by incoming professor Saida Grundy, a black woman, feminist and sociologist set to start teaching African American studies in July. Brown said he supported Grundy’s right to free speech, but added that her comments could be classified as racist.
As of the end of April, the BU African Presidential Center was set to close in June for lack of funding. Also, the school’s undergraduate student body is only about 5 percent black. In 2012, BU reported having “an extremely low percentage of African American/Black faculty” compared to other comparable institutions; approximately 2 percent of 2,000 full-timers self-identified as Black or African American.
My alma mater also sent out another kind of letter this past week: solicitations for donations. One version of the letter said that gifts help make the university more valuable, which in turn makes me more valuable as a graduate. Meanwhile, the other letter claimed, “Boston University has a rich history of supporting women.” But my friend, who received the latter version, and I know better; we both attended BU through its 2012 sexual assault controversies, and as students fought for the right to have adequate resources for those who need them.
BU still struggles with how it deals with sexual assault, but it’s no surprise that they claim otherwise. Just consider their record on diversity, and how administrators nonetheless claim pride in the school’s relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr., who earned his doctorate of philosophy at BU’s Division of Religious and Theological Studies. It makes you wonder: Assuming no one makes the huge mistake of firing Grundy, after she leaves her mark on BU, will her legacy be used as another selling point? Or will we forget about Brown’s letter altogether?