Race issues must be continually discussed

The panel on race relations that took place on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at the University was a great step forward. For the first time, students, faculty and administrators had a safe atmosphere where they could talk about issues ranging from recent and past hate crimes to diversity on campus to larger infrastructural problems. In attendance were professors in the African American Studies department, Dean of Students Scott Smith, the leaders of the Black Student Alliance and other key players in the University.

This kind of discussion is necessary. Right now, Saint Louis University is a white island in the middle of Midtown, and rarely are issues of race and class oppression so readily on the tips of people’s tongues as they have been in the past weeks. The race panel was an outlet to discuss strategies of change, a place where people could come together and share their fears and hopes for the future of the University and a place where they could air deep grievances that rarely receive audience.

But it can’t stop there. The discussion about race at SLU cannot end with one panel and one speaker during Black History Month. This must turn into an ongoing endeavor. There must be a series of panels spread throughout the semester where we can truly flesh out a plan of action for our University. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t happen overnight, and neither will one session hatch a comprehensive change of attitude in our predominately white, wealthy university.

This will take hours of work, but ongoing discussion is the only way to begin the change our school so desperately needs.