Editorial: Event fails on race relations

Presented with an opportunity to promote discussions of race, For Members Only’s “State of the Black Union” on Friday failed to capitalize on it.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, chosen as the keynote speaker, provided the star factor to attract attention to issues of race and diversity on campus. Wright delivered an insightful and often humorous speech Friday night in front of Cahn Auditorium.

The two student leaders who preceded him, however, chose to repeat divisive and tired attacks. Both Mark Crain and Zachary Parker, the past and present coordinators of FMO, ripped the university for only enrolling 81 black students in this year’s freshman class.

“Let me not exaggerate and make this seem like a crisis for the university, because frankly it’s only a crisis if you care,” Crain said. He didn’t mention repeated public statements by University President Henry Bienen and other administrators calling the low black enrollment a serious problem.

Parker talked about “racially insensitive financial aid packages that are awarded to students of color.” He offered no specifics, neglecting to mention programs like QuestBridge and NU Ambassadors that target minority students.

We have previously called the university’s low black student enrollment a disappointment. It is a complex issue that requires serious thought and cooperation between students and administrators.

Parker later said, “Now, I introduce to you all a new vibrant, politically conscious FMO that will no longer stand alone while our community disintegrates around us.”

As NU’s black student alliance, FMO should do just that. We hope it will work with other student groups to bring racial issues to the forefront in an open dialogue.