BUS and USG debate racism resolutions

Hannah Armenta

Two members of Kent State’s Undergraduate Student Government stormed out of the organization’s meeting after a heated debate with members of Black United Students Wednesday night.

Kevin Otubu, the director of programing, and Colin Otubu, the representative for the College of Undergraduate studies, left the Governance Chambers after the meeting was cut short due to an argument between USG Executive Director Marvin Logan and members of Black United Students.

Members of BUS insisted that USG address BUS’s grievances which caused USG’s scheduled meeting to come to a halt. The meeting was then opened to a public forum that would allow open discussion to address BUS’s grievances.

“We have a race issue, and it starts with USG and people that are a part of their body,” said Matthew Thompson, president of the Black United Students. “So are we going to work and actually get this done and figured out, or are we going to talk about Kevin Hart coming on Saturday?”

Thompson listed grievances BUS filed at the last meeting and USG’s proposed solutions.

One of BUS’s biggest concerns is the inactive diversity committee within USG. Currently, the committee is only a pilot committee, meaning that it is in its beginning stages. But USG is working to make it a more permanent standing committee and add it to its bylaws. Logan said members of USG are going to make the committee the first thing on their agenda when school resumes next semester.

BUS’s immediate demands were the resignation of Senator-at-Large Joshua Lewis, and the Director of Residence Halls Lauren Buchanan. Originally, Tia Loop, USG’s director of communications, and Kevin Otubu, USG’s director of programming, led BUS to believe that the only way to have them leave was if they resigned themselves.

After taking a closer look at USG’s charter, Thompson discovered that there was no mention of that rule.

Loop said that USG decided to leave it up to Lewis and Buchanan to resign because of the time it would take to vote them out of the body.

To remove an officer, 8 percent of the student population must sign a petition and two-thirds of the of the body must vote to remove an officer, Logan said.

Members of BUS also requested that USG participate in anti-racist training through the Department of Pan-African Studies at Kent State.

However, in USG’s solutions to the grievances, it said that it would participate in diversity training, not anti-racist training.

“Members of the body felt that it would not bode well for the Undergraduate Student Government to participate in something that was called anti-racist training because it would simply say that the Undergraduate Student Government was racist,” Logan said.  

The anti-racist training would cover all races and would teach people what racism looks like in the 21st century, said Leia Belt, BUS director of programming.

“This training isn’t about how to be around black people,” Belt said. “It’s how to be culturally competent as a whole.”

Belt also said that BUS is not upset only because of this one incident.

“This isn’t a Black United Students against Josh and Lauren thing,” she said. “This is Black United Students against institutionalized racism thing.”

Contact Hannah Armenta at [email protected].

Editor’s note: There was an error in the photo caption of the print version of this article published in The Kent Stater on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. The caption stated USG asked the public to leave its meeting so it could go into executive session to discuss BUS grievances. USG Executive Director Marvin Logan said the executive session was called to discuss allocations, not the BUS grievances.