The Association of Black Students at Washington University in St. Louis used its winter break to compile of list of “grievances and demands,” alleging school officials “do not care for black and brown students on campus.”
The student paper Student Life reports the complaints include “a number of events in recent years” such as professors using bones in anthropology classes, a weak response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, and racist graffiti on an underpass.
ABS Co-Chair of Political Affairs Paul Scott said “it seems like” there hasn’t been adequate recognition of these issues by WashU. ABS President Taylor Robinson added the group is “fed up” and feels like “nobody was taking the time to really listen” to it.
According to the ABS Instagram page, the bones issue stems from its origins — the “infamous Robert J. Terry Collection.” Terry was a “racist eugenicist,” the ABS says, who “t[ook] advantage of the lack of legal protections for Black people and other marginalized peoples in the 19th and early 20th century.”
The ABS wants WashU to “acknowledge this racist history,” and to effect the return of all “unethically obtained” bones to the appropriate descendants — with compensation.
The ABS also claims the university hasn’t done enough to “maintain Black and Brown students’ presence on campus.” One “administration” [sic] allegedly said WashU needed current black students to “help recruit” more blacks to come to campus.
“WashU continues to mislead alumni and parents about the failing campus conditions and structures for Black students’ social, mental, physical, and environmental well-being,” the group’s Instagram page states.
Another slide of the Instagram post included a condemnation of the University’s handling of an incident in which white supremacist propaganda was spray-painted over a Black history mural on the Underpass between the Danforth Campus and the South 40.
“We demanded Admin to bring the artist back to [re]paint,” Robinson said. “Nothing was done.”
Via email correspondence after speaking to Student Life, Robinson wrote that she was informed that the artist was compensated, but restated that the request to bring the artist back to campus to repaint was never fulfilled.
Other slides of the post expressed frustration at the University’s lack of action on recent controversies surrounding professors Philip Dybvig, who was accused of sexual harassment by seven students, and Seth Crosby, who made a post on X, formerly Twitter, referring to the recent Israel-Hamas war as a “much-needed cleansing.”
Regarding Crosby, it is curious as to what the ABS claims WashU’s “lack of action” was as the professor says he was fired for his comments — over two months before the group complained about the university not having a “clear plan” for his removal.
Robinson said the ABS’s concerns shouldn’t be taken as “combative” but “as a group of people that are fed up and demanding to just be heard.”