A Turning Point

student protests

On Thursday, April 21, 2015, Decolonized Commons, the student-led movement protesting racial injustice, and specifically, institutional racism at Naropa University, pitched tents and occupied the Arapahoe Green for SIX weeks. Against a backdrop of nationwide social unrest due to the ongoing assassination of black youth, Naropa students and allied community members banded together and put their bodies and voices at risk to catalyze social and cultural transformation at their beloved institution.

Their demands were simple yet profound:

  • Improve our hiring and retention of faculty and staff of color, recognizing that there are students of color on campus, and the majority of Naropa teachers and administrators are not
  • Emphasize sensitivity training around issues of racism, gender, and racial inequality for Naropa teachers and administrators
  • Support student-led discussions on race
  • Employ a special review processes before disciplining students of color, due to the potential for racial profiling
  • Have a visible multicultural center that seeks to develop cultural competency through community engagement
  • Implement an Ethnic Studies curricula, which examines U.S. history and contemporary social issues from multiple perspectives to arrive at a plural and multicultural understanding of U.S. society

Historical information from the period between 2000 and 2014 is filled with deep and heartfelt efforts to bring social justice work to Naropa. Following the Decolonized Commons student protest in 2015, however, the institution has made coordinated efforts toward creating an inclusive community, one being the current iteration of the Office for Inclusive Community.