The student-led blackout was a healthy way to show support for peers at Mizzou and raise awareness of issues surrounding race and equality, the associate vice chancellor for University Relations said.
“What better place to have important conversations than on a college campus?” said Laura Jacobs, associate vice chancellor for University Relations.
It is great for students to voice their concerns and show support for causes they consider worthwhile, said Charles Robinson, vice chancellor for diversity and communications.
“I like to think the UofA is a discrimination-free campus, but if someone feels discriminated against, he or she should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance,” Robinson said.
No one should feel they are being treated unequally, and no one should suffer in silence, Robinson said.
“If students let administrators know, we are required to pass it along,” Robinson said. “We won’t just sit on it. We’ll look into it.”
University Housing sent an email to all resident assistants the night before the blackout was scheduled to take place, said Takama Statton-Brooks, director for residence education.
“The email was sent as a show of support to those who were considering participation in the blackout,” she said. “As an administrator, I think it is important to help facilitate avenues for students to express their opinions and cultural upbringing.”
Part of her role as an administrator is to help students navigate the system for appropriate expression, Statton-Brooks said.
“Activism for social justice causes is a life skill that all leaders should possess,” she said. “Highly visible campus roles, such as the resident assistant position, are great for demonstrating how to do those in a manner of respect and civility.”
All resident assistants are expected to be positive role models first and foremost, Statton-Brooks said.
“The media coverage on events where a group has been disparaged do not always highlight students, staff or community members in the best light,” Statton-Brooks said.
This is not because media personnel are bad people, but because of the emotions tied to their perspectives and belief systems, Statton-Brooks said.
Though the email was sent specifically to resident assistants, all University Housing staff received a similar message, Statton-Brooks said.
“The focus of that message was a reminder of our role as educators, student advocates and for promoting an environment that facilitates discussions around issues of diversity,” Statton-Brooks said.