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PHRC Executive Director and Senator Art Haywood release report detailing hate and harassment on PASSHE campuses

01/30/2024

For Immediate Release

January 30, 2024
 

 

PHRC Executive Director and Senator Art Haywood release report detailing hate and harassment on PASSHE campuses

 
West Chester University, West Chester, PA, January 30 – The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW, in partnership with Senator Art Haywood (D-4) hosted a press conference to announce the release of The ENOUGH Report. This report details the traumatic experiences of on-campus hate and harassment on PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) campuses and lists concrete demands to address this matter. Senator Haywood and Executive Director Lassiter were joined by PASSHE Chancellor Greenstein, West Chester University President Dr. Fiorentino, Senator Schwank, Senator Martin, Rep. Nelson, and Liv S., a Pennwest student.

In August 2020, the SpotlightPA report titled "Condemn, Discuss, Repeat" highlighted racism at PASSHE schools, prompting a campaign led by students and alumni, supported by Senator Art Haywood. Identifying deficiencies, they pressured for reforms, leading to Chancellor Daniel Greenstein's positive response. The "ENOUGH: Listening Tour" provided a platform for Black and Brown students to share experiences, aiming to build on progress and ensure a discrimination-free learning environment. Although strides have been made, there is ongoing work to eliminate racism's impact on academic achievement for Students of Color in Pennsylvania's schools. The report covers student perspective, university actions, and an overview of the ENOUGH Tour timeline. 

"This effort has become even more urgent since the US Supreme Court put our nation in reverse by ending affirmative action in college admissions. College admissions officers and recruiters are being told to wear the same blinders that prevented them from seeing Black talent for centuries," says Senator Haywood. 

Senator Haywood continues, "All students should be in an environment that is conducive to learning and free from discrimination. That is why I designed the ENOUGH Listening Tour. Ultimately, Pennsylvania's leaders and institutions should respect the dignity of all students. The work to ensure that dignity is intact for Pennsylvania's Students of Color continues with this report in hopes that one day the work will no longer be required."

"One of the takeaways from this report is that while more and more students of color are attending schools in the state system, they often feel isolated, alienated, and unsupported," said Executive Director Lassiter. "They face microaggressions and discrimination from other students, faculty, and sometimes the surrounding community. Students also told us about the lack of mental health resources to help deal with the problems they face. "

Lassiter added, "Senator Haywood and I are thankful to the students and alumni who opened up and spoke with us. Being vulnerable shows a high level of courage. The feedback we received will go a long way to help ensure all students can learn in an environment that is free from discrimination."

Senator Schwank (D-11) says, "It is vital that our state-owned universities remain safe havens where all students can depend on to pursue a higher education. I commend Senator Haywood for his exemplary leadership in addressing racial abuse and inequities on our campuses. As a member of the PASSHE Board of Governors, I am fully committed to utilizing this report when we are considering the changes we want to see on our state-owned campuses."

Rep. Pielli (D-156) adds, "I'm glad to see that there have been efforts made here at West Chester University, but this report is just the beginning. We have to keep going. We must keep recruiting not only students of color but also professors and staff in order to have a more diverse environment where everyone feels safe and secure. 

Rep. Nelson (D-154) says, "What's truly meaningful for our students is the agency they have when they find their voice and their ability to reach out to the legislators who are standing with them." Rep. Nelson continues, "Unfortunately, there is another amazing community of students who are not necessarily black and brown who are also dealing with the scourge of racism on campus. As Saturday, January 27, was Holocaust Memorial Day, I think it is important that we use this report to build a broad coalition that will continue to stand united against racism and hatred of all forms on our campuses and throughout our communities. These are the moments where we are supposed to reach out and find common cause."

In response to the report finding, Senator Haywood calls for the development of a standard code of conduct that prohibits racial harassment, standardized processes for incident reporting and response, adaptation of best practices for retaining students of color, and for each campus to create a Title VI office to enforce anti-discrimination. The PHRC will also partner with PASSHE to provide training and outreach to staff and students.

To view the report in full visit www.SenatorHaywood.com/ENOUGH.

PHRC is the state's leading civil rights enforcement agency. Anyone who has experienced acts of discrimination or hate to file a complaint with the PHRC by calling 717-787-4410.  Information and resources are also available at www.PHRC.pa.gov


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