Monday, May 23, 2005

Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder abets the loons 

Many people may not even know that the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder exists as a black newspaper in the Twin Cities. The paper has run a series of articles that help out the loony critics of SCSU. All appear to be written by Jeremy O"Kasick Two give sympathic portrayals of Bianca Rhodes, who's skills as a commencement speaker we've discussed. Two weeks ago, it ran a story effusive of Rhodes upcoming commencement speech, while the week before O"Kasick wrote a report on her failed attempt to get an amendment to the Minnesota State University Students Association's charter supporting under-represented students.
Rhodes, along with eight SCSU delegates and a handful of others, walked out of the assembly in protest. The multiracial group only had to cross the street to their hotel room on a cool spring night, but Rhodes spontaneously began to sing the spiritual, �A Motherless Child,� to ease everyone�s emotional intensity.
Our student homecoming queen called her "the Angela Davis of our school". Now I wonder where he got that from?

In its latest edition, O"Kasick gives new attention to a couple of fringe players who continue to send letters to school counselors telling them not to send minority children to SCSU.
Since 2002, a small group of local African American activists have also intermittingly sent letters to Twin Cities area high schools, condemning SCSU as a racist institution. ...

The two activists involved, Myrle �Buster� Cooper and Michael Davis, recently informed MSR that they have sent a new batch of letters to 48 high schools throughout Minnesota. ...

�St. Cloud is somewhat like the segregationist South,� said Cooper, a retired SCSU faculty member and longtime local gadfly. �City Hall and the university control everything around here, and they get real nervous when the word gets out about all the racism.�

Cooper said that the aim of their letter-writing campaign is to dissuade students of color from coming to St. Cloud, or at least compel them, their parents, and academic counselors to look deeper into racial issues at the university. They have hoped that such efforts will ultimately force SCSU to implement significant changes in order to improve its environment.
"Retired" faculty member and "longtime local gadfly" are, to be polite, euphemisms and an attempt to inflate Cooper's stature. Davis, who at least still is a faculty member here, manages to evade disciplinary procedures while attempting to impede a state goal of the campus, to increase its diversity. For its part, SCSU sends out its enrollment management person with data. And O"Kasick eventually undercuts Cooper and Davis with an interview with another student of color on campus.
Between all the numbers reported and cases made by administrators and activist professors, however, couldn�t high school students of color learn the most from SCSU students of color?

�I am glad I came here. It opened up my eyes,� said Chanmany Sysengchanh, a fourth-year student who graduated from Minneapolis� North High School, living near the intersection of Plymouth and Emerson. �It hasn�t been easy � that is for sure. But now I know how the world is outside the one I grew up in.�

Over the past year, Sysengchanh has served as the chair of campus affairs for SCSU�s student government. He said he is discouraged by what he views as campus-wide backlashes against cultural diversity, but that it was SCSU in the first place, along with a handful of professors, who inspired him to pursue studies in sociology and human relations.
I don't quite get the "backlashes" bit, since the backlash seems to be that anytime we put students of color in picture we are accused of "tokenism" and anytime we do not we're accused of bias. And yet it was SCSU in the first place, he said, that got him inspired to study (albeit fields of questionable merit.) It's here that the student really was able to learn. It makes you wonder what the MSR has against SCSU, unless it's to simply puff up a few Angela Davis wannabes.