After another round of fruitless emails with Dr. Simpson, an online petition was created to ask that the University of Kentucky update the Student Code of Conduct to include language against racial harassment. The website www.StopUKracism.org was created to bring attention to the incident and invite visitors to sign the online petition. An announcement was made at UK’s NPHC homecoming step show. Local Lexington News Station WKYT aired the story “Racist comment creates controversy at UK” which featured an interview of Bro. Rashad Bigham and his account of filing the initial complaint. After media coverage and acquiring over 500 signatures on the petition, the University finally reached out NPHC to meet and discuss this issue.
Although there have been admirable efforts to fight this battle of racism I’m still disturbed. Yes, a white student called a black organization Niggers. Although I find that offensive, that is not what really disturbs me because I know racism still exist in Kentucky and expect it to rear its ugly head on a campus like UK’s. I admit that I’m a bit surprised and frustrated that representatives handled the incident so poorly, but that still isn’t the reason why I’m so disturbed. I’m disturbed that it took so long for a member of NPHC to file a complaint with the university.
Let’s look at this from a different perspective. When the offense first occurred, NPHC did not take any actions to file a complaint. The brothers of EX did eventually file a complaint, but that was only after weeks of pleading from an Alumni brother. When the University provided an inappropriate response, an Alumni Brother had to encourage the college brothers to demand more of the University. It was an Alumni brother that started an online petition. It was an Alumni brother that created a website. An Alumni brother proposed that an announcement be made at the NPHC Stepshow. It was an Alumni brother that reached out to other NPHC Alumni to spread the message. The ONLY reason why there is any movement on this subject is because one Alumni brother pushed for it did a great amount of the heavy lifting.
My point is this. It appears that our younger generation (not just Alpha) lacks initiative when it comes to taking a meaningful stand against racial injustice. There appears to be a sense of apathy when it comes to issues like this. EX was more concerned with the step show than this issue. UK NPHC was more concerned with the step show than this issue. Younger members of NPHC are completely okay with a white student disrespecting them. Black Greeks just want look good at the step show and after party.
We have failed to express the importance of fighting for racial equality. We must teach our younger brothers that being an Alpha is more than winning a step show. We must teach our younger brothers that racial injustice is real and there is a way to fight it. It may be good for the KY District to consider including such topics in the District Convention considering there is little room for deviation in IMDP presentation topics.
Bro. Kevin Cowherd
Spring 2002 Epsilon Chi Initiate
Maturing Alpha Lambda