Students plan 'Black Lives Matter' event

Students plan 'Black Lives Matter' event

A student government initiative will result in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln eliminating the use of polystyrene — also known as Styrofoam — for food packaging in 2016.

In the wake of national concerns on racism, particularly on university campuses, University of Nebraska–Lincoln students are organizing a "Black Lives Matter" event.

The event will begin at 12:20 p.m. Nov. 19 on the north side of the Nebraska Union. For more information, click here.

UNL administrators voiced their support for the event in an email message issued Nov. 17. The message was signed by Chancellor Harvey Perlman; Ronnie Green, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs; and Juan Franco, vice chancellor for student affairs.

"We believe this event, and discussions about race relations, are significantly important for our community," the message read. "Inclusion and diversity are deeply valued at UNL. We are committed to creating and maintaining an environment where people from all backgrounds can engage, challenge and support one another."

With a number of events, including a Black Lives Matter rally and UNL Math Day, bringing visitors to campus Thursday, UNL Police Chief Owen Yardley said his department is working closely with event organizers to assure a safe, supportive environment .

Yardley said UNL police have been working collaboratively with student organizers of the Black Lives Matter rally and will be present to provide security.

“We are reinforcing the mission of the UNL Police Department, which is to promote an environment of safety and security," Yardley said. "By establishing collaborative relationships with students, faculty and visitors, we ensure a peaceful quality of life in the university community.

“As a department, we feel discussions about race relations are significantly important to our community. We believe we should listen to others and try to understand their perspectives and experiences.”

In 2013, UNL committed to develop a framework for more open, honest dialogue to help shape how students, faculty and staff think about diversity issues on campus. The effort has launched several campuswide initiatives, including:

  • providing professional development for faculty and staff to build expertise for engaging in and facilitating discussions on diversity;

  • incorporating into new student enrollment programming messages on how speech and conduct can be regarded as insensitive or disrespectful by others;

  • adopting a TIPS reporting system that allows members of the campus community to report incidents of bias;

  • Creation of a report about best practices for diversity and inclusion;

  • hiring an outside, independent consultant to conduct a diversity analysis of the university, which is expected to start in spring 2016;

  • re-establishing the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of People of Color;

  • appointing a special assistant to student affairs to support student diversity and inclusion; and

  • committing to hire chief diversity officers in human resources, academic affairs and student affairs.

For more information on diversity initiatives at UNL, click here.