The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

93° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    MLK director’s selection draws students’ ire

    Michael Franklin, president of HOOPS, and Ofunneka Arah, president of the NAACPs Tucson chapter, held a meeting in the MLK center yesterday to find more ways for the black community to connect to the rest of the campus.
    Michael Franklin, president of HOOPS, and Ofunneka Arah, president of the NAACP’s Tucson chapter, held a meeting in the MLK center yesterday to find more ways for the black community to connect to the rest of the campus.

    Many black students expressed dissatisfaction at being left out of the process for finding a new African-American Student Affairs director during a meeting last night.

    The almost 45 students who came to the meeting organized by the NAACP and Helping Our Own People Survive came to talk about what they are looking for in a new director, said Michael Franklin, a history education senior and president of HOOPS.

    Whoever is chosen to be in the director position will oversee all activities by black student groups on campus and will also decide the fate of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center.

    The meeting started off low-key, with an introduction by Alex Jordann, a UA alumnus, about the history and value of the MLK center.

    “”We need to keep everyone from yelling at each other and get them to yell together,”” Jordann said. “”We need to take the energy that is here and channel it in a positive direction.””

    It quickly heated up when Franklin asked all faculty and staff to leave – closing the meeting – so “”students could speak out without a fear of being reprimanded or censored for anything they say.””

    The search for a new director is down to two candidates for now, despite strong protest from students at the meeting.

    The two candidates are Lynette Cook Francis, who is currently the assistant vice president for the UA’s Multicultural Affairs and Student Success program, and Kendal Washington White, who has been acting as the interim director for AASA since the contract for the last director, Alex Wright, wasn’t renewed in April 2005.

    Students quickly got fired up once Ofunneka Arah, president of the Tucson chapter of the NAACP, started speaking about student participation in the interviewing process.

    “”We need to be looking for options to move forward, not just complain about it,”” Arah said to the crowd. “”If these two candidates are not the right people, we need to voice our opinion. We need to come to them as an educated community front so that they can listen.””

    Many of the students voiced their discontent that Ruben Berry, the retention specialist at the MLK Center, who has a close bond with many students who come there, was not a current candidate for director.

    Their concerns seemed to be somewhat quieted by Ed Hopkins, a member of the director search committee, when he said students had been misinformed because the candidates are not the only two but the first two being considered.

    We need to be looking for options to move forward, not just complain about it.

    – Ofunneka Arah, president, Tucson NAACP chapter

    “”We can’t have bias for anyone,”” said Hopkins, a philosophy senior. “”The process has to have integrity.””

    Hopkins promised that two more students would be added to the search committee and that their voices would be heard.

    The overwhelming concern among students is the future of the MLK Center, a place Jordann said “”the spirit is gone from.””

    Franklin and Hopkins echoed Jordann in saying the MLK center isn’t as welcoming as it used to be.

    “”When it comes to this center, I’m not going to let anything happen to this center,”” Hopkins said.

    Interested students will have a chance to participate in the interview process for Cook Francis tomorrow from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at a student forum and lunch in Room 209 of the MLK Center. White’s interview will be Thursday at the same location, Arah said.

    The candidates will be asked to respond to questions regarding the retention of black students within a predominately white university community, Arah said. They will also be answering any other questions that students bring to the discussion.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search