LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Faculty of the African-American and Africana Studies (AAAS) program at the University of Kentucky have written a letter to University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto with a long list of changes that would help with "eradicating racism" both on and off-campus. One of those changes include renaming Rupp Arena.
"The Adolph Rupp name has come to stand for racism and exclusion in UK athletics and alienates Black students, fans, and attendees," AAAS faculty write in the letter. "The rebuilding of the arena and the convention center offer an opportunity to change the name to a far more inclusive one, such as Wildcat Arena. In addition, the University should survey all campus buildings and remove all names of enslavers, Confederate sympathizers (such as William C.P. Breckinridge), and other white supremacists."
Some of the changes they recommend include:
- Committing to increasing diversity among the staff at all levels
- Requiring a course on race and inequality
- Increasing Black representation among faculty to 15%, which reflects the Black population of Lexington
- Appoint more Black faculty and staff to leadership positions
- Increased support for Black students
- Institituing a policy that minimizes its cooperation with federal state and local law enforcement agencies including Immigration Customs and Enforcement (I.C.E) and the Lexington Police Department
- Renaming Rupp Arena
"These actions will alter the institutional realities concerning racism on our campus and move us toward racial equity—not just diversity and inclusion—in our community," AAAS faculty members write.
The university responded to the letter saying senior officials have been meeting to address concerns.
"The faculty and students who have expressed these concerns are deeply valued members of our community. We thank them for their continued passion and commitment to advancing equity at UK. Senior officials have been meeting and corresponding with them to address their specific concerns, which speak forcefully to the systemic and institutional racism that we must thoughtfully and urgently address as a campus. Approvals already have been made with respect to the new faculty hires requested and discussions are ongoing regarding the creation of the Commonwealth Institute of Black Studies. But more must be done. And that is what our process – which hundreds of members of our campus have stepped forward to be part of – is designed to address. The work ahead of us is bigger than a plan written down on paper. Rather, we must respond as an institution, now and from this point forward, to be a community that stands against racism and that embraces people as their authentic selves."
Read the full letter from AAAS to President Capilouto here.