This semester, the Wake Forest campus has engaged in conversations regarding the university’s relationships with racism and white supremacy, especially following the discovery of racist blackface photos in the Howler and revelations that Dean of Admissions Martha Allman and Associate Dean of Admissions Kevin Pittard appeared in photos with a Confederate flag while they were students in the 1980s.
It is clear that both students and faculty believe that the university must reckon with the presence of racism on campus, now and in the past. The formation of groups such as the Wake Forest Anti-Racism Coalition and the ad hoc faculty group Wake Forward demonstrate how important it is that these issues are addressed.
At the same time, the Wake Forest campus currently approaches the end of another semester — students will soon complete final exams and leave campus for the summer.
It is the belief of the Editorial Board that the university administration should not allow attention to be diverted away from issues of racism over the summer. Rather, the summer could be a useful opportunity for the administration to brainstorm ways to make meaningful progress.
With most students off campus during the summer months, it could be easy to forget the student efforts imploring the administration to address racism. However, this is not an excuse for the university to stand pat until next semester — these issues do not stop being crucial when students are no longer around to hold the administration’s feet to the fire.
The summer should be treated as an opportunity for the university to develop and workshop new, creative policies and ideas to present to the student body in the fall.
While the university’s inability to suggest meaningful solutions to these complex issues during a busy semester can be excused, it would be troubling to return empty-handed at the conclusion of a summer that should prioritize developing reactions to student input.
To date, the university has primarily offered promises of decisions and changes that will come in the future. Should administrators’ understanding of addressing these issues not include building a detailed action plan in the coming months, they will further eroded the already damaged relationship between themselves and students.