Students are a light to follow in the pursuit for racial and social justice

By Brandon Cooper–

As University of Louisville administration addresses the racial and social justice issues making headlines, it is critical that they do not forget their greatest resource: students. The administration should focus energy on giving the power to mend injustices to those already in the streets protesting for such.

Student Government Association President Sabrina Collins said “the path forward has to come from students.”

“Our generation has the solutions, it is now up to U of L and universities across the nation to really listen,” Collins said.

As the university moves forward, they must base their actions off of those that are organized, focused and led by students. U of L professor Jason Gainous spoke passionately about the need to emphasize students during conversations relating to racial and social justice issues.

“Our students are the future of our community,” Gainous said. He has attended local protests with his 14-year-old daughter – who was pepper-sprayed and shot at with rubber bullets by police. He said he has seen first-hand the kind of passion and energy young people have and has faith in their ability to lead us through this pursuit for equality.

As a professor of digital politics, Gainous encourages students to continue using social media and other online platforms to organize, seek assistance and share their stories.

Gainous described university actions as a ‘balancing act’ – given the university’s extensive community ties that could be hindered by abrupt action that is not given extensive thought and planning.

At the onset of protests in Louisville over a week ago, actions and voices were faint from the U of L’s administration.

In recent days, Dr. Bendapudi has joined other administrators from the community to speak out against racial injustices. In addition to the administration’s recent statements and public appearances in the community, U of L Health has just announced a nursing scholarship fund in honor of Breonna Taylor. Though both great starting points, real action, policies and innovation must be implemented to enhance equality at the University of Louisville.

Bendapudi’s commitment to a student-centered ‘revolution’ starting right here at U of L is very apparent in her rather consistent communication with university stakeholders. The intricacies of university actions concerning social justice issues further highlight the need for extraordinary student engagement and leadership. When the future leaders of our community and nation speak, it is the responsibility of those currently in such positions to listen and act.

Anthony Taylor, a senior communications major, said he wants to see U of L become much more proactive about social justice going forward, rather than consistently reactive. Taylor believes that U of L has the resources to be on the frontlines of prominent social justice issues that directly impact our communities.

Hanah Jo Thurmond, a recent U of L graduate and attendee of local Black Lives Matter protests, said that the university should reinforce and expand the platforms for people of color to speak out on campus.

How will we, as a Cardinal family, respond to the impacts of these long-endured inequalities?

A critical step moving forward for the university is the implementation of required courses about white privilege and racial diversity for both students and faculty. Such courses could easily be added to the Cardinal Core requirements or implemented as curriculum in the Cardinal Orientation program. For employees, such courses should be added to the current employee orientation practices for all staff and faculty.

We should acknowledge the progress we’ve made thus far while continuing to call for action to implement the changes needed for racial equality and social justice.

U of L’s strength as a research and higher education institute lies in our diversity. With a spotlight on our students, U of L can be a national leader for higher education institutes to follow when addressing issues of inequality.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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