AP featured image
FILE – In this July 8, 2016 file photo, a man holds up a sign saying “black lives matter” during a protest of shootings by police, at the White House in Washington. Black social media users are nearly twice as likely to see posts about race and race relations as whites, according to a report released Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, by the Pew Research Center. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A black student activist group is demanding that the University of Pittsburgh fire all faculty and staff deemed to be “racist” by a black-only student council.

The group —  Black Pitt — is also demanding an end to First Amendment free speech rights for all employees at the public university, and a black-only graduation, among other demands.

As reported by Washington Free Beacon, the black coalition outlined its list of demands in a letter to the university. The letter reads, in part:

Faculty and staff with one incident or complaint of racial bias, excessive force, or unlawful arrest/detainment should be terminated and banned from the University campus immediately if found at fault. During the time of the investigation, the faculty/staff should be disclosed by name and banned from the University campus until its completion.

Think about that for a moment.

A single complaint. Reported to a black-only council. The accused’s name is immediately disclosed to the public. The accused is immediately banned from the university campus until completion of an “investigation” by a black-only student group.  The “investigation” is over. The university employee is fired. Thank you very much, next case.

Don’t misunderstand;  the concern here is not about skin color. It is about predisposition, elimination of protection under the First Amendment, assumption of guilt, and predetermined punishment.

Katlyn Patton, spokeswoman for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told the Washington Free Beacon that Pitt is bound by the First Amendment regarding professors’ free speech rights.

As a public institution, the University of Pittsburgh is bound by the First Amendment in its decisions concerning when to discipline a professor. While these students are free to express their concerns and propose ideas, Pitt, like any public college or university, must consider the protections afforded to professors by the First Amendment and the principles of academic freedom in evaluating allegations of racial bias based on speech.

Those “student concerns” are reflected in a 12-page list of demands, which includes, in addition to the termination of “racist” university faculty and staff:

  • a Black-only graduation
  • the creation of a “People’s Voice” committee  comprised of “Black faculty, staff, alumni, and student liaisons who are well-versed in the field of Black studies/culture”
  •  an overhaul of university curriculum to be more “inclusive and comprehensive regarding the plight and triumphs of Black people”
  • the establishment of a Masters and Ph.D. program in “Black studies”
  • the firing of “racist” university polices officers and severing of ties with the city of Pittsburgh’s police department
  • full financial support as well as University assistance with securing a location for events and projects that cater to the “Black Experience”
  • creation of a space in the William Pitt Union solely for Black students
  • an increase in the population of Black students on campus
  • the establishment of 51 new scholarships for Black students
  • the creation of a Black Advocacy Council

A Pitt spokesman told Pitt News that the university is giving the list of demands “serious consideration.” Black Pitt, which did not respond to a request for comment, called on the university to implement all of its demands by the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Pitt isn’t the only public university to be challenged in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, as colleges around the country grapple with the Black Lives Matter movement and heightened “racial sensitivity.”

As we reported last week, the University of Colorado announced in a memo to faculty and staff that all applicants to the university must be willing to “combat racism,” adding that the criterion is now a “non-negotiable condition of enrollment and employment.”

The memo read, in part:

A series of racist, discriminatory and threatening social media messages — some posted by current and incoming students — have come to light in recent days. […]

Regardless of when these messages were posted, they were found at a time when our community is hurting due to the violent deaths of George Floyd and many other Black Americans.

[…]

We may be confronting the unparalleled challenges of a global pandemic, but we can’t let that work distract us from making real changes to our campus culture to combat systemic racism and bias-motivated behavior.

These changes must be seen in how we recruit students, faculty, staff and administrators — in how we signal to them the need to embrace our community values as a bottom line, non-negotiable condition of enrollment and employment.

Clearly, the rights of all Americans are protected by the U.S. Constitution, not just those with whom we agree.

In protecting those rights, we must also be vigilant in protecting the rights of those with whom we disagree. If we do not, it will be one day be “us” that “they'” seek to silence.

Mike Miller
Political junkie. Former senior writer and editor at Independent Journal Review. Realist. Slayer of hypocrisy. Sports lover (except for soccer, of course). Insufferable pizza snob.
Read more by Mike Miller