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January 25, 2013

New fund brings race out front

As a result of persistent student pressure for reform, the University established the Campus Dialogue Fund (CDF) in response to the 2010 arrest of African-American student Mauriece Dawson in the Regenstein Library, which was widely believed to have been racially motivated. Beginning this school year, the CDF will be allocated $15,000 annually to bring speakers on social justice issues to campus.

The Fund is the result of work by the Ad Hoc Committee of Campus and Student Life, Student Government, and the Alliance for Student and Community Rights, which was formed in response to the Dawson incident, according to the CDF Web page. Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Associate Dean of the College Eleanor Daugherty said this is not the only reason for the formation of the CDF.

“The need for dialogue on issues of race, power, gender, and privilege is not the result of one incident,” Daugherty wrote in an e-mail. “Rather, the incident motivated a campus that has been deeply committed to inquiry since its inception.”

Third-year Clarence Okoh, president of the Organization of Black Students, said that the CDF is “only a first step” toward resolving the racial issues on campus.

“Since Regenstein, we are still seeing many incidents that only make the CDF a more valuable resource,” he said in an e-mail. “There are systemic issues that confront communities of color on campus.”

Okoh said he hopes the CDF will increase awareness about the issues and motivate University members to solve them.

After the Dawson incident, students tried unsuccessfully to bring Michelle Alexander, a law professor specializing in racial issues at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, to speak on campus, Okoh said. Alexander will be the speaker at the George E. Kent Lecture at Mandel Hall on February 21, partly thanks to funding by the CDF.

The student-run CDF will be funded through the Office of Campus and Student Life and advised by OMSA. Speakers may be proposed by the CDF committee or other student organizations, according to Daugherty.

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