April 28, 2011

Letter to the Editor: Statement of solidarity on Africana

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To the Editor:

Re: “Letter to the Editor: Misrepresenting the facts,” and “Letter to the Editor: A University deception,” Opinion, April 5

In response to the recent announcement that the administration plans to increase the funding support for the Africana Center, we the undersigned stand in solidarity with the statements and actions of the Save Africana Center Campaign and the Africana Center students faculty and staff as expressed in the public letters which were published in The Sun on April 5. Additionally, we declare our continued support for the call to suspend the decision to move Africana into the jurisdiction of Arts and Sciences so that the next step can be made collaboratively amongst those who are directly impacted by and invested in this decision.

Although we appreciate that increased funding has material value and may constitute a gesture of support, the offer of additional financial resources does not address the reasoning behind the nation-wide public condemnation of the administration’s decision. In many respects this surge in funding serves to simply obscure rather than confront the issue at hand. The fundamental issues of the center’s autonomy in regards to budgeting, hiring of faculty and maintaining a unique pedagogy remain unaddressed. The statements from Africana members and SAC have consistently spoken to the ways in which Africana stands to be undermined by being moved into Arts and Sciences. Providing more resources without addressing this concern constitutes continued misunderstanding of the issue.

At a time when Cornell is under financial duress, it is more critical than ever to do the best job possible to use our resources in effective and pragmatic ways. This means drawing on the incredible resources available to us as a community, including a shared commitment to continuing support for the Africana Center. With the social capital built by SAC through connecting a highly powerful network of alumni, lack and Africana studies scholars from across the country, and the energy and commitment on campus from students, staff, and faculty — we stand poised to make a move that will allow the Africana Center to remain a preeminent source of scholarship and expand the horizons of Africana studies for generations to come. We want a reporting structure that works; one in which self-determination and collective responsibility is maximized, for all involved. We want to rebuild the sense of community that has been lost as a result of these decisions.

All of this will only be possible through the suspension of the decision to move Africana and a commitment to come to the table with authentically open dialogue, humility and respect. There is far too much at stake to proceed in any other way.

John Adam Armstrong grad, Cymone D. Bedford grad, Rachael Blumenthal ’13, Alex Bores ’13, Hannah Chatterjee ’13, Jason Corwin, Jesse Delia grad, Victoria Demchak grad, Omar Figueredo grad, Sarah Ghermay ’11, Megan Gregory grad, Cassy Griff, Cassandravictoria Innocent grad, Julie Jacoby grad, Lawrence Lan ’11, Aaron Law grad, Irene Li ’12, Allison E Lupico grad, Kevin McGinnis ’13, Ashley E. McGovern grad, Zach Murray ’11, Dean Darwin Oliver ’12, Perla Parra grad, Scott Perez grad,