Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Frustration, Anger toward KU Administration Mark Forum on Race

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Frustration, Anger toward KU Administration Mark Forum on Race

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE -- University of Kansas students and faculty offered raw, emotional testimony Wednesday on the effects of racism, often expressing pointed frustration with the university administration during a forum where, at one point, demonstrators took over the stage.

A group known as Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk also laid out a series of demands for changes on campus, and the leader of the Black Student Union spoke skeptically of Chancellor Bernadette Gray- Little's comments at the event.

The forum drew more than 1,000 people, packing an auditorium at the primary student union on campus with more watching from an overflow room. KU announced the forum Monday as demonstrations roiled the University of Missouri, leading to the ouster of that university's two top officials.

The forum's profile quickly mounted, and KU announced Gray- Little herself would moderate.

"Be very mindful and very cautious of the rhetoric and of the style of the conversation that has occurred. Do not be fooled," said Kynnedi Grant, BSU's leader, referring to the forum.

In a charged moment, Grant said she had been attacked a week ago - - put in a chokehold and called racial and misogynistic slurs, and that two of her friends were held at gunpoint.

Soon after Grant spoke, Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk listed a number of demands as demonstrators stood on the stage, holding signs. The group demanded that the university hire a director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs by Dec. 15 and that concealed weapons be banned from campus, among a list of more than a dozen demands.

The group said it wouldn't comment beyond its list of demands.

Gray-Little, at the start of the forum, said conversation about race is needed. The university has an obligation to encourage conversation, she said. She said she welcomed the comments of those in attendance.

"I ask you, please, let's engage in a civil conversation that is respectful of other individuals," Gray-Little said. …

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