By Tiana Woodard
President Jay Hartzell, Dean Soncia Reagins-Lilly, and Vice President LaToya Smith are “on board” with the Black President’s Leadership Council’s calls for sweeping changes to make UT a more equitable campus, said the group’s co-director.
“We knew it was going to be a meeting that was going to prompt more conversation between us (and the administration),” Brianna McBride, BPLC co-director, said. “but each constituent is committed to furthering the progress of our demands and things that we need in their roles.”
The group released a list of demands late March calling for increased financial aid opportunities for Black students, funding the creation of a student activity center in Riverside, and developing an affordable housing plan, among other action items by May 1.
McBride, who’s also a government and communication and leadership senior, said BPLC members met with administration in mid-April to discuss timelines for each demand. Hartzell, Reagins-Lilly, and Smith agreed to the demands via email shortly after the letter’s release, she said.
“Following through is not a problem as long as we continue setting these meeting dates, but (we need to) not only set these meetings but also set actions and progress,” McBride said.
The co-director said their next big challenge is creating an effective way of communicating these updates with the student body. As the university works on these demands in the future, McBride said UT Senate and Student Government have agreed to help in keeping the momentum behind this initiative.
“A lot of the things (in the BPLC list of demands) are not just Black issues,” McBride said. “They’re student issues.”
She said the council hopes to open up membership past a handful of leadership roles in Black UT organizations. But students don’t need to wait for an invite to get involved, McBride said.
“If (students) are feeling some type of way about X-Y-Z, then definitely voice that opinion, and let that be known to us,” McBride said. “At the end of the day, UT is an institution and for us to want to work with them, we need to work collectively.”
Disclosure: BlackPrint ATX is part of the 49 organizations represented by BPLC.