Loyola Marymount University has officially opened its new Black Student Space which will “foster a sense of belonging” and “prioritize the well-being of the Black student population.”
According to LMU This Week, the Space — known as The Mbongi Spot — came about via the activism of the group #BlackAtLMU last summer. It was one of several demands #BlackAtLMU made as it claimed the university deals with diversity and equity matters “incorrectly.”
The Mbongi Spot will provide for (black) students and others what bell hooks dubbed a “homeplace,” or a “place of refuge, healing, and resistance to oppression.” It also will assist with black students’ “formation and holistic care” as they have “culturally specific needs that have gone unattended.”
Associate Director of Transfer Admissions Charles Mason said LMU alums will get “chills” when they see the Mbongi Spot. “It is a celebration of students, faculty, staff and alums,” Mason said. “The Black Student Space will not only benefit our Black students, but also the whole university.”
In addition to the Black Student Space, #BlackAtLMU also demanded of LMU:
— An acknowledgement of Black LMU history. The fact that there are no black members in the LMU Faculty Hall of Fame “blatantly communicates” that only white faculty have made worthy contributions to the school.
— Establishment of a “Black Staff Hall of Fame.” In addition to adding blacks to the existing Faculty Hall of Fame.
— Black students and alumni “should guide the selection of art for the University.” LMU “should seek to celebrate its more recent past by either replacing the current photos or, at the very least, integrating the types of photos that celebrate ALL communities.”
— Double the Office of BlackStudent Services’ budget by 2023.
— Update curriculum to include additional diversity/anti-racism core class for undergrads. LMU should implement a mandatory “Race Relations in Contemporary America” course to “bridge the gap between all socioeconomic statuses on campus” and because “this country was built on the backs of enslaved Black people […] it is crucial that we recognize that.” #BlackAtLMU allowed for the course to be taught by non-blacks; however, instructors should hold advanced degrees in subjects such as “Ethnic studies, Equity and Social Justice studies, Critical Race studies, [and] Theories of Diaspora and Decolonization.”
— Hire at least 17 additional Black faculty and staff and retain current Black faculty & staff.
— Integrate a module that addresses anti-Blackness into the standing orientation program.
According to The Loyolan, anyone wishing to enter the Mbongi Spot/Black Student Space must adhere to its ethos statement, (which states in part “in this space our humanity is sacred and protected” and “we […] choose protection of our energy and healing”) and to “honor and respect the Black community.”
IMAGE: Thinglass / Shutterstock.com