YSUnity for Whom?

Since President Jim Tressel has worked on developing YSU’s image, we have heard the motto YSUnity again and again. My concern is that this is just simply lip service.

Currently, we have an 8% graduation rate for black students. That is the lowest in the country. And administrators gripe about having black student graduation ceremonies to make them feel more accepted and supported.

We are one of the only two universities in Ohio without a gender resource center to provide support to people who are sexually assaulted and offer other important resources. When we try to promote sexual assault awareness during April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2019, Kelly Beers, director of Title IX, tried to prevent YSU students from handing out Title IX information. And we hire a tennis coach for female athletes who has a track record for sexual harassment and lobby for rapists to be allowed to play football.

We have a large population of lower-class students. But our working-class studies are underfunded and undersupported.

We have a veteran’s center that we promote quite often, trying to attract veterans as students. But the most needed resource for them, a therapist, is absent from the veteran’s center. 

And we have disabled students and faculty who desperately need support and they do not receive it because they’re told it’s beyond the purview of the administration. We have students, staff and faculty with MS, ALS and other damaging disabilities. When they asked to have DeBartolo’s most used entrance next to the handicap parking made into a handicap-accessible entrance, they were denied this, and do not have a door wide enough to allow a wheelchair in. Instead the university argued that the front and back entrances were there and, while very difficult with the slopes to make for handicap people, are good enough.

So, where is the unity? If we are really about unity, we need to start supporting the people along the margins. This means resources, time and funding. Not lip service.

Michael Jerryson

Professor. Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies