Ohio State’s Undergraduate Student Government issued an apology via social media for failing to recognize Black History Month after the issue was emphasized in a letter from USG’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee submitted to senior staff members and during a five-and-a-half hour long open public forum at its General Assembly meeting Wednesday.
The apology states that USG unintentionally failed to recognize the importance of Black History month at Tuesday’s weekly meeting in Hale Hall.
“What happened on Tuesday evening was unacceptable, disrespectful, and wrong,” the statement reads. “We understand that we cannot remove the hurt that was caused by our shortcomings and we want to say in the clearest terms possible: We are incredibly sorry for not acknowledging and celebrating Black History Month as we held our meeting in the most important space to Black students on this campus.”
The statement acknowledged that Hale Hall is home to the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center and is celebrated as a historical and significant place because it sits on top of the Underground Railroad. Hale Hall has also long served as a safe space for black students, the apology said.
According to previous Lantern reporting, black students protested the lack of acknowledgement at the GA meeting Wednesday night with more than 50 speakers, and a resolution to acknowledge Black History month was passed 34-0.
USG also said it is sorry for the ways it may not have acted as a safe space for black students on campus.
“We apologize for all of our actions and inactions that have upheld systems of oppression against Black students,” the apology reads.
USG said it understands that an apology alone is not sufficient but hopes to move forward to do and be better.
“We commit to recognizing Black history and Black students not just in February, but every day and every month of the year,” USG said in the statement.
USG committed to working with black students to craft a long-term action plan to support and advance their needs. The plan will be released to the public in the coming days.
“We recognize that Predominantly White Institutions like Ohio State are inherently racist institutions,” the statement reads. “In order to truly represent Black students we must actively be an anti-racist organization.”
A follow-up meeting for further discussion on the issue will be held Tuesday prior to the organization’s weekly Cabinet meeting.