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Towson U. President, Black Students Come To Terms

P. Kenneth Burns

After more than eight hours of negotiations, Towson University Interim President Timothy Chandler signed a document promising, among other things, to increase the number of tenured and tenure track black faculty members at the school.

Chandler signed the document, brought to him Wednesday afternoon by more than 20 black students, sometime after midnight Thursday.

In a statement, he praised the students for bringing their concerns to school administrators.

“I’m extraordinarily proud of this group of students, who want to make this a better place, not just for them, but for all of us,” he said.

Chandler led the negotiations on behalf of the school with assistance from Student Affairs Vice President Deb Moriarty and Traevena Byrd, the school’s counsel.

John Gillespie and Bilphena Yahwon  led negotiations for the students.

In addition to increasing the number of black faculty members, the students demanded equitable policing practices for black and white events, and a required course on American race relations, among other requests.

University spokesman Ray Feldmann said a similar list was brought to the Student Government Association by a group of black students during a meeting Tuesday.

The list was reviewed by both administration and students for several hours before both sides were satisfied.

“I think students of color just want to make sure that they’re being heard, they’re being listened to, that their concerns are being addressed,” Feldmann said.  “They feel like as minority students…a lot of times their issues and their concerns maybe aren’t paid attention to at the level that they would like see.”

Similar to protests earlier this month at the University of Missouri Columbia, the students asked other media outlets to leave because they "[felt] unsafe."  At one point, they huddled in a corner of the office with their backs turned.

Feldmann said the students felt there was a double standard after being told they would not be allowed back in because the administration building closes at 7:00, but media was allowed in after hours.

The campus newspaper, The Towerlight, was the only media outlet in the office that provided updates on negotiations between the students and administrators through twitter.