By: Rebecca Panico | Published Dec. 10, 2015
A coalition of ministers who have called for the university president to resign are expecting about 150 people to attend a rally tomorrow at noon by the S.T.E.M building which will highlight alleged discrimination at Kean.
Members from the university’s full-time faculty union, the Kean Federation of Teachers (KFT), are expected to attend, along with other organizations.
“The ministers are asking why our majority-minority student body does not deserve the same level of faculty and services that their peers get at our sister institutions,” the KFT wrote in an email to its members. “The cause of the ministers dovetails perfectly with initiatives coming from the American Federation of Teachers, our national union.”
No permit is required for tomorrow’s’s rally, said Union Township Police Director Dan Zieser, since “there’s permits in the Constitution.”
Union Township police will provide barricades to protect participants from traffic starting at the campus’ main entrance across from the S.T.E.M. building to the Green Lane Building, Zieser said. Both Union Township and Kean police will be monitoring the event along Morris Avenue.
The coalition called for Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi’s resignation after racially charged Tweets were posted online during a peaceful rally last month in support of University of Missouri students.
Though Kayla-Simone McKelvey, a black Kean graduate who was allegedly a participant in the rally, was charged with a third degree count of creating a false alarm in connection with the threats, the coalition continued to call for Farahi’s ouster.
Rev. Ronald Slaughter of the Saint James AME Church in Newark recently told The Tower that the ministers originally called for Farahi’s resignation because of “the culture of racism and the fact that it trickled down to the students.”
Yesterday, the Union County Democratic Organization expressed their support for Farahi in an open letter to him, which noted that Kean’s STEM program has one of the highest minority and women enrollments in the state, while the Human Rights Institute was launched by Farahi in 2010. The letter, signed by state Senator Raymond Lesniak (D), also highlighted Kean’s academic programs in Africana, Asian, Jewish and Women’s studies.
“Diversity is Kean’s strength, and under the leadership of [Farahi], it has flourished,” the letter read. “We wholeheartedly support Dr. Farahi and his visionary leadership as he moves Kean University forward.”
The KFT highlighted that the ministers have been seeking justice for former Kean employees who have “been victims of discriminatory decisions,” such as layoffs to 12 professional staff members five years ago which included 10 women, six African-Americans and two Latinas.
According to institutional research from this year, 33 percent of undergraduate students are white; 18 percent are black; 25 percent are Hispanic; 16 percent are Asian; 7 percent are unreported; and about 1 percent are classified as “multirace.”
Between full-time, part-time and adjunct faculty, 138 are black, 944 are white, 128 are Asian, 83 are Hispanic, 12 are “multirace” and 132 are not reported, according to this year’s institutional research.
Meanwhile, the KFT also noted more potential layoffs to departments heavily staffed with women and minorities that provide services to “our historically under-served minority students.”
In July, Kean’s Board of Trustees voted to increase tuition and fees by three percent while Farahi announced potential layoffs to the Equal Opportunity Center, Center for Academic Success and library, citing a budget shortfall.
After the KFT protested the potential layoffs, the university stated the three departments will be “reorganized” by having lecturers provide advisement to EOC students while the CAS would be restructured with a “laser focus” on improving retention and graduation rates. The library will use more digital media than books.
“To minimize the impact of the reorganization,” Kean spokeswoman Margaret McCorry wrote in an email last month, “the University will offer retraining and educational opportunities to any University employee affected by the changes.”
The Ministerial Alliance in Partnership with the Newark North Jersey Committee of Black Churchmen and the People’s Organization for Progress are also expected to attend tomorrow’s rally.