Seton Hall’s Concerned 44, an activist group made up of students on campus, delivered a list of five demands to University Provost Karen Boroff on Tuesday morning.
The list of demands included sections targeted at restoring the Africana studies program to its former department status, a student review board for Africana studies professors, a mass overhaul of the Latino Studies and Latin American Studies Program and earmarked University funds for Black History, Hispanic-Latino History, Women’s History, and Islamic History months. The full list can be found on their Instagram page, @shu_concerned44.
The activist group, whose name derives from the reported percentage of marginalized and minority students on Seton Hall’s campus, say that this new list of demands is a revamped version of the original list of 18 demands. The previous list was presented by the Black Caucus to the University last semester in the wake of the news that Dr. Karanja Keita Carroll, a former adjunct professor of Africana Studies, didn’t have his contract renewed.
In addition to the demands, the Concerned 44 also delivered a petition against the University’s Talent of Inclusion Initiative, which at the time of publication had over 1,000 signatures.
In an interview with The Setonian, Concerned 44 student organizers Taylor Newkirk, Emani Miles, Aleessa Akegnan and Chris Duran, said that they were dismayed by the University’s response to the previous 18 demands, which inspired them to revamp and condense the list.
According to Miles, if the provost fails to accept the demands the Concerned 44, will hold a sit-in in the lobby of President’s Hall for three days beginning on Oct. 24. If the University still doesn’t accept their demands by Oct. 29 they plan to then stage a protest out on the heavily trafficked University Green.
Should their demands continue to go unfulfilled on Oct. 30, the Concerned 44 intends to march into South Orange alongside numerous local civil rights organizations including, among others, The New Jersey Association of Black Educators and the Newark NAACP.
Newkirk explained that she feels as though the Concerned 44’s hand has been forced to organize these protests due to the “watered down” responses their complaints have received from the University’s administration.
“We’ve had meetings with the Provost before, and we definitely didn’t feel like our voices were being heard,” Newkirk explained. “You know, nobody wakes up one day and says ‘I’m gonna go protest for no reason.’ We’re doing this because we feel like we have no other option, and if we don’t then who else will?”
Student responses to the demands and planned protests were mixed.
Freshman diplomacy major, Luke Schreder said that while he appreciated the efforts of the Concerned 44 to create an inclusive and diverse campus, he felt that there might be better ways to go about obtaining support for their demands from the administration.
“I think some of the demands are counterproductive, particularly the student review board,” he said, “but I hope they see positive change. I just don’t know if their practices are necessarily the best.”
Frank Mabalatan, a sophomore accounting & information technology major, had a different view.
“The concerned 44 represents a significant portion of Seton Hall’s student body,” Mabalatan said. “I admire that they are willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure that that portion of the student body is being heard, acknowledged, and respected.”
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.