As a College of Charleston student, Kimberly Ohanuka remembers being turned away when she planned events that appealed to black students at the school. As an alumni, she says she’s been met with similar rejection from the College.
On Thursday evening at 7 p.m., Ohanuka and other black College of Charleston graduates are gathering online to make their case to President Andrew Hsu for how to improve on-campus race relations. The lack of diversity among the student body has long been an issue at CofC, where the campus population at the public university is less than 8 percent black, according to Princeton Review.
Organizers say they will deliver a recording of the call to Hsu, who started at CofC a year ago. (People wishing to participate should email email@example.com.)
“The president plans to listen and hopes to come away with a better understanding of the concerns and questions our black alumni have, so that he can work with them to address these issues,” CofC spokesman Mike Robertson told the City Paper.
Since graduating in 2014, Ohanuka said she’s tried to do what she can to help amplify the school’s outreach to black alumni without much success. But her most recent frustrations have come up after she said she had comments deleted and was blocked from a university social media account. At least one other person has claimed similar experiences when raising questions in comments of CofC social media accounts.
“I love CofC. I am very proud of where I came from, I worked very hard at CofC,” said Ohanuka who now works as an attorney. “I would not be going this hard if I did not care about CofC because there are many people who have given up on CofC and do not care whatsoever.”
Thursday’s call comes after nearly two weeks of national protest over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the latest example of deep-seeded racism at the heart of our American institutions.
In an interview with ABC News 4 this week, former College of Charleston basketball star Andrew Goudelock had good memories but described not feeling welcome on the campus where he laid the foundation for his career as a pro player.
“I know other black alumni who have tried to do things to diversify the school, [but] nobody’s gotten anywhere,” he said. “I spent four years there and I just feel used. I don’t feel welcome.”
Robertson said the College is investigating the claims of the negative interactions on social media.
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