Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chicago State Students Speak Truth to Power

Below are excerpts from the public comment portion of last Friday's debacle. Public Comments begin around 10:45 on recording 2. These are the voices of Chicago State students from the September 16 Board meeting:

Mary Bunch

"We believed in Dr. Calhoun, he made us feel that we were worth something. I put my feet on the pavement down at the state of Illinois building .. .to keep these doors open. Dr. Calhoun gave us this inspiration and for Dr. Calhoun to be dismissed, the students were not, I wasn’t, even informed,it’s as if we do not make a difference at this university. This is our school."

Karen Smith

"I’m here because I care and my question to you is do you care? Do you care . . . about the future of this university and if you do care what’s the plan? If President Calhoun wasn’t a part of, what is the plan? What actionable solutions do you have in place to turn CSU around? If you cannot truthfully and honestly answer the question, do you care? Then the next item on your personal agenda needs to be to respectfully submit your resignation."

Michael Wiegand

"I’ve thought about what I would say in front of you, I thought about how I would say it, and standing in the back listening to the last couple comments, it doesn’t matter, right now we have no proof that you guys are going to listen. You need to understand why this is happening . . . I’m here talking to you guys about somebody who was unequivocally respected, well respected, who is, sorry 'resigning.' When you go home, ..look yourselves in the mirror and [ask] are you doing what's best for the school? I don’t think any of us believe that, and . . . perceptions become reality . . . and the perception is that right now the school is not being run by you folks in the way that is best for the university, and I think you need to change that."

Andre Fredricks

"What I’ve been seeing this entire time of this board meeting has been rather shocking and a little bit disgusting, I’m looking at the student representative giving you the voice of the students and it’s continuously being drowned out by those who are supposedly for the students. . . there are a bunch of different things on campus that need attention, you have a ravine in front of Douglas hall, you have . . .leaking pipes, but yet there was money to buy out President Calhoun's contract. It’s gotten to a point where the Board of Trustees has lost the trust of the faculty, the staff, some of the administrators, and most importantly, what makes up a university, the students. And honestly, the only way I can see this being fixed is I challenge you to reinstate President Thomas Calhoun."

Adrian Mercado

"As a leader, I’m having a hard time seeing the future of Chicago State because of this. As a resident assistant in the dorms, how do I talk to my residents and people that come to me for help? . . . about the future of Chicago State University? . . . they want to know, are we going to be here next semester? We found comfort in president Calhoun, we found that was the light we needed . . . I commend you guys for hiring him in the first place, but for you guys to take [him] away, just know that in the future . . . the press, the media, it’s going to be ten times worse."

Charles Preston

"I’m a senior in African American studies, a discipline that’s being gutted. African American Studies is suffering, the social sciences at this university [are] suffering, and it’s a shame that is never raised in these meetings. As this trustee board exited to executive session, I approached Trustee Smith, Bishop Trustee Smith, he’s a Bishop, and I said 'don’t laugh at our concerns. It’s disrespectful.' He told me in response, and this can be confirmed by multiple sources, 'don’t let the white man control you.' Now I don’t know if he believes that a black student at this university can't conceive their own thoughts and concerns, and state their position, I don’t know . . . the inspiration for these racially charged remarks, but I know it’s a level of disrespect. When someone that has so much power talks down to a university student, in a disrespectful manner . . . the fact that he’s laughing and on his phone and being disrespectful and not taking us seriously speaks volumes, volumes about the condition of that board, what’s on that board. We should get behind Paris Griffin . . . she does so much for this university and for them to disregard her thoughts, she put in the work and they disregard it, so that speaks volumes about this board; and they should be ashamed of themselves. So, I don’t want to speak to them, we deserve an apology, an open public apology, I want to read it in the Tribune . . . that they’re sorry for not respecting the wishes of students, faculty, staff, and administration of this university. That is what we deserve and what we shall be demanding."

Christopher Glenn

"I was always told to look the devil in the eye. I’m going to try to paint a picture for you. We go back to January, the heralding of a new era for Chicago State University, A new leader arises, a breath of fresh air, a warrior, who is ready to lead us into the next era . . . a proud man, a strong man, Dr. Thomas J. Calhoun. So let’s fast forward nine months, 'til Wednesday, Chicago Tribune reports 'Chicago State's new president will now be resigning due to issues with the Board of Trustees.' So we go from shining new era in January to the end of an era in September. In 9 months we go from fighting a war as a collective to the war being on the inside, so the question is for all the trustee members, were you ever really interested in the war outside of the school? or was it your intention to just have your own needs met? So, let me paint the next headline for you that I see in the . . .coming months, 'Inept board members are the cause of the closure of Chicago State University.'"

This is why we fight. Our students are who we fight for.


  1. Bob, thanks for posting this. The interchange between Charles Preston and Smith is revealing. Charles points out that Smith was demeaning and disrespectful. I would add that Smith appeals to an anti-black racist stereotype: when black and white people are in an alliance, the white people must be controlling the black people. Why would anyone think that if they weren't anti-black?
    I congratulate Charles Preston and the other students for their courage. Keep up the struggle! Never give up!!

  2. I am so proud of our students. I come to work to be able to support them in their learning and to support our faculty in their teaching. And then this board just slaps everyone in the face.