University meets STOP coalition deadline

Reem Rahman speaks at a STOP press conference on Thursday. ME Online

Reem Rahman speaks at a STOP press conference on Thursday. ME Online

By Jonathan Wroble

For Students Transforming Oppression and Privilege (STOP), the retirement of Chief Illiniwek was a step forward. But it partially met just one of seven main demands that the group gave to the University administration.

The deadline for a response to these seven demands was today at 11 a.m. This morning, STOP received a letter from Chancellor Richard Herman addressing its concerns.

At 12:00 p.m. today, STOP held a press conference at the African American Cultural Center, 708 S. Mathews Ave. The conference featured statements from eight speakers and was attended by STOP coalition members, University administrators, faculty, community members, directors of ethnicity-based campus programs and others.

“Racism in our community did not end with the last dance of the Chief,” said Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu, Red Roots member and University student. “We thank the University for taking the first steps.”

The conference speakers covered many issues, including recruitment of minorities, social integration and the University’s contract with Coca-Cola. They did not, however, specifically address the content of Chancellor Herman’s 11-page letter.

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“We received this morning a written response,” said Reem Rahman, junior in LAS and spokesperson for STOP. “We will review it carefully to see whether it has met the critical changes.”

The conference lasted about 40 minutes and was followed by a brief question and answer session. All in attendance were offered alternative beverages to Coca-Cola products.

As for a reply to Chancellor Herman’s letter, Rahman explained that STOP will read the letter and respond “as soon as possible.” Until then, the conference speakers stressed the importance of action on the part of everyone, not just the administration and groups like STOP.

“The question is, ‘Do you have the courage, dignity and love we need to proceed?,'” said Aaron Ammons, co-founder of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. “Sure you do.”