UB’s lack of diversity raises hard questions

Asking ‘Who cares?’ benefits no one

UB’s lack of diversity among faculty and University Police is seriously disconcerting.

The university is one of the most diverse institutions in the country when it comes to its student population. But no so much when it comes to its faculty and police. Minority students feel discomfort with the fact that UB faculty and police don’t equally represent the student body.

UB must address these demographics and attempt to make changes for the sake of current and incoming students.

The most concerning demographic is that out of 40 UPD officers, 39 are white. According to Deputy Chief of Police Joshua Sticht, UPD has had more black officers in the past but they’ve moved on to other forces. That doesn’t excuse the fact that there should be more diversity in the police department.

During the Black Student Union open forum, one black student recalled his first experience with UPD. He said he approached the officer asking where the library was. The officer asked if he was a student. The officer was white.

You can’t blame the student for feeling uncomfortable.

In the past year, police brutality and discrimination has been more prevalent than ever. It’s safe to say that an alarming number of these incidents involved a white officer and a black male. We all know how it foes. The black male usually ends up arrested or dead. Therefore, isn’t it normal for a black student to be hesitant when approaching a white officer?

The Spectrum is not trying to put UPD in the same category as those officers. We respect the job UPD does in dealing with the student body. But these demographics are still alarming and only add to the issue. It’s completely rational for blacks and other minorities to feel uncomfortable with these staggering statistics.

But it’s not just UPD.

The faculty numbers are almost as bad. Nearly 79 percent of faculty is white, while under half the student body is white.

When The Spectrum published these statistics, some people responded to us via social media and asked, “Who cares?” Most of those people were white.

But these numbers don’t affect the people whose race is largely represented. It’s easy for students who can walk into any lecture hall and have a professor look like them to ask, “Who cares?” when it comes to racial diversity.

When a minority student comes to UB, they are well aware of the diverse student population. But when realize almost 80 percent of their professors are white, it could send a message that minorities can be taught but can’t teach.

The answer is not to simply hire minorities in the faculty and police force for the sake of hiring minorities, as that would be supremely counter productive and illegal.

The problems go much deeper than that. There needs to be a balanced pool of applicants for these positions, drawn from all walks of life. Teresa Miller, a law professor and vice provost for Equity and Inclusion, said the challenges UB faces is that it’s easier to recruit minorities to universities already rich in racial diversity.

UB find ways to make the university appealing to students from all around the world – now it needs to make it appealing to minority faculty and police as well.

Our society still struggles with basic issues. We isolate and segregate. It’s a vicious cycle and one that will not be solved quickly and easily.

The most important part is understanding the situation and taking part in the conversation. When you understand your neighbors, then you can start working together to solve problems. Ignoring the problem and asking “Who cares?” because it does not directly affect you, serves the benefit of no one.

There is no easy fix.

The problem can’t be ignored – it must be addressed, and now.

email: editorial@ubspectrum.com