By Raven Madison, Reporter
Following UAB’s Moment of Silence for the lost lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, some students and alumni argue that the institution should be doing more to create a lasting impact for their black students.
On Friday, UAB and UAB Medicine hosted “a virtual moment of silence” via Zoom to honor Black Americans who have died because of systemic racism and injustice. Paulette Dilworth, UAB’s vice president for diversity, equality, and inclusion, led the program by speaking a few words of how the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. This was followed by an eight minute and forty-six seconds moment of silence to represent the amount of time former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck, killing him.
In response to the moment of silence, Amyna Price, a UAB alumnus, said that to truthfully accept diversity, school officials must show that they care about making the campus feel safe for people of all colors.
Price said that for a school that proudly advertises diversity in marketing and recruiting, events like the moment of silence will not achieve sustainable equality for students of color.
“UAB has two departments dedicated to diversity and inclusion, but still has a number of systemic issues that it has not done enough to address and correct,” said Shreya Pokhrel, a recent public health graduate who founded the UAB Students for Diversity and Campus Safety.
The group, started by Pokhrel and several other student leaders, sought policy change after several UAB faculty and students were discovered to be associated with white supremacist ideologies and hate groups in 2019.
Since then, she said there’s a lot of talk but no genuine change.
“UAB must implement long lasting policy changes, institute new programs, host intentional events, among other things,” Pokhrel said.
Pokhrel said she is encouraged by actions taken by other universities.
“I believe the names of racists on buildings and statues all across campus must be removed,” Pokhrel said.
Pokhrel said that UAB should follow the example of the University of Alabama after it recently removed plaques memorializing the Confederate army. UA also announced it will consider renaming buildings named after segregationists.
“To have a building named after you is an honor,” said Price. “And people like George Wallace spent the majority of his life doing dishonorable things to Black men, women, and children.”
On Tuesday, following the moment of silence, Black student leaders across campus came together to write a public letter showing their support and empathy for black students and challenging them to work together and get involved.
They encouraged UAB students to organize as a community and give back through donations to bail bonds for activists, signing petitions and volunteering with local businesses. The student leaders also said they look forward to working with UAB to amplify black voices on campus.
“I believe that it has become too easy for people and entities to do the bare minimum in fear of rocking the boat,” Price said. “For a school that makes diversity a major selling point, they have to show more than a small gesture weeks later that they care.”