The on-campus student activist group the Concerned 44 released a new statement on Nov. 19 providing an update on the state of negotiations between Seton Hall University Administration and the group’s list of five demands.
The nine-page statement expressed numerous grievances with the current state of negotiations and the current state of their demands, namely “vague” and “non-committal” responses from University administrations rather than concrete promises.
“We have seen absolutely no commitment or interest by the administration for Africana Studies and Latin American/Latinx Studies to be made into departments,” the statement read. “The vague promises of ‘expanding’ a program with no vision or end goal of having a department only serves to show that the administration is willing to bide their time and continue to talk to us in closed-door meetings and meaningless dialogue while no action is taken.”
The statement is a hard departure from the hopeful sentiments initially expressed by the group while heading into negotiations. In an interview with The Setonian following the end of the Presidents Hall sit-in, Concerned 44 organizer Taylor Newkirk said, “While we were impressed with the degree to which the University has gone to meet our demands, there are still some aspects that must be included in order for us to truly feel as if Seton Hall University is a community suited for all people.” She added that she did not “foresee [administration] dragging their feet when working with us any time soon,” but left open the prospect of protests resuming if negotiations stalled.
Newkirk declined The Setonian’s request to comment for this article.
In an interview with The Setonian, Provost Dr. Karen Boroff reasserted the University’s steadfast commitment to the promises that Seton Hall Administration made to the University Community regarding the Concerned 44’s demands.
“Nothing has changed at all in our commitments that the President made public in her university-wide announcement,” Boroff said.
She also explained that the University was moving forward as planned with hiring a director for the Africana Studies program who will be tasked with improving the overall course offerings in the program, as well as bolstering enrollment and visiting schools with PhD programs to look into ways in which Africana studies can further improve their program for students looking into postgraduate degrees.
Boroff also added that the University is currently searching for a firm with no prior ties to Seton Hall to conduct a thorough review of the Offices of EEO and Title IX compliance to ensure that such an investigation is fair and untainted and is working on new methods to inform students of the office and its purpose.
Junior communications major Zachary Shaw expressed a mixed opinion on the Concerned 44’s statement.
“I still stand behind the students. If they are unsatisfied, then clearly there is a continuing issue.” Shaw said. “However, I am more hesitant than I was previously, as it has been made apparent that the University is trying to reach a compromise. I hope that both parties are able to settle their differences for the betterment of the student body.”
On Dec. 5, the University’s administration sent out an email to the student body to remind them that they are working closely with the Concerned 44 to “enact meaningful initiatives while taking into account our responsibility to serve Seton Hall’s many stakeholders and being careful stewards of limited University resources.”
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.