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  • Dennis Fox

Eric James

Updated: May 7, 2020

What is your name year and major?

My name is Eric James, I was a Crime and Justice Major and I graduated in 2019.

Why did you come to UMass Dartmouth?

Finances, I transferred here from Suffolk university and its less money to go here. It was all finances.

Do you consider the student body of UMass Dartmouth to be diverse?

More diverse than Suffolk by a lot.

Do you consider the faculty of UMass Dartmouth to be diverse?

I would say that the way that the school likes to say that they have a diverse faculty is by looking at all the faculty over all, its no secret that we have mostly white professors and then when you look at the faculty where the people of color come in are usually like custodians, people who work in the dining hall, you barely see people of color in housing that are not RA's that are students, you don't really see people of color in direct leadership positions besides Robert Johnson, who if you ask people on campus a lot of people think is like a puppet show anyway.

So yeah Id say the school likes to pretend like they have a diverse faculty by saying we have this percentage of faculty of color, but what they don't mention is that all the faculty of color they have work in janitorial positions so I would say no, in terms of what they are trying to present. They don't have many professors of color, if anything they have 2 or 3 black women they hired last year.

How do you think the university views its students of color in general?

I feel like the university uses all of its students like cash cows, like we're banks. I don't think the university sees its students as students, as much as opportunities to make more money, so when it comes down to it, you start to get into marginalization's of student groups, it's just automatically whichever one they don't feel is gonna give it the highest return. In terms of like a certain demographic is gonna graduate, if they don't feel like a certain demographic isn't gonna give them money to come back like alumni, and donate stuff like that then they won't have invested interest.

I think one thing that people kind of get hung up on the stereotype of people of color when they say we are not educated, or we don't give back to where we come from or whatever, so i feel like a lot of the times our student groups ask for money, one they don't believe that were that big of a influence on campus which I think it bull shit, cause I think we host most, if not all of the lit events on campus are hosted by students of color, but they don't wanna acknowledge that.

I feel like in terms of students of color, it's more like whose face they can plaster on whatever poster with whatever smiley picture to get how many donations and stuff like that for marketing. We're like a marketing ploy, that's literally all it is. They talk about how well they can grab students of color but don't care about retaining students of color. They don't care about actually putting into anything we actually care about like any of our clubs, any of our dance troops, anything that we do on campus we basically get overshadowed. They'll acknowledge that 6 out of 9 of the pillars of the community were students of color but won't acknowledge that when it comes to actually shelling out money towards the clubs that the students come from if that makes sense.

How do you feel about white students on campus?

I would say that it depends on the space, and on the people but like, i would say that UMass at least in Dartmouth I haven't felt as much, I would say one thing that our community kinda has been able to do more than Suffolk is actually create a sense of community, for instance i’ll go to my classes, and my classes are almost always mostly white. But then you have one or two black kids in there, and for the most part probably know like, if they're not involved in something then they probably know someone who’s involved in something.

So you know them through that or from a woodlands party you guys met at, so it makes it easier to build that commodity instead of being in there feeling like your by yourself. Usually just in general, I used to feel that all the time especially at Suffolk was that sense of inferiority, or like you are not as smart, or you just doubt everything that you say, like in class for instance you feel like you're gonna say something but it might be wrong. And even if it's in a class where there is a right or wrong answer, even if it’s a critical thinking based class you feel like well is what I say valid because it doesn't necessarily agree with all these people, or I don't think they will understand my perspective so does that make my perspective less valid? You just are made to feel that you don't hold the same space and that you're not supposed to hold the same amount of space.

Have you ever utilized the counseling center?

Oh no I really haven't gone in there, I'm not gonna hold you, I feel like a lot of students of color don't utilize the center cause I don't know many black friends or people who go in there like that, I know there is a center on campus but I couldn't tell you where it is to be honest with you. Yeah I just don't know that many people that utilize the center itself.

Have you ever attended events put on by multi cultural orgs and what do these things mean to you?

Yeah I definitely have, I was actually vice-president of BSU (Black Student Union) two years ago, and at the same time I was president of HOD which isn't a multicultural org but it was deemed a multi cultural org because it was started by black people and it was held in the unity house. In terms of the ones I go to, I think we host a lot of the things that are lit on campus. Especially all the woodlands parties that are lit on campus, i'm not gonna say that nobody else hosts lit woodlands party and stuff but I don't really hear about it like that.

That might be part of the culture of the community that has been set, in terms of like, the community its just so vast, you have black students and students of color but you also have dance troops in the community, fashion /clothing lines in the community and all these different things in the community. Its almost like you don't really have to venture out that much and once you're inside its like all you're surrounded by, it's really hard for me to see anything outside of that. I think I have seen Mental Note, which is a singing troop, and that was one of the only ones I saw because they sang at the black history month show. I feel like our community does such a good job of creating so many good things and events that are just so lit that you almost don't know what is going on outside of it.

Has the school cut funding to these orgs, do you feel like the school supports and validates these events?

Yeah so I definitely don't think the school validates the multicultural orgs at all, I feel like S.P.E.A.K. right now is on its way to be extinct as an organization because the school likes to say they gave more money this year, but like it’s usually percentage based giving, that's what I hate about this school, they like to explaining everything in ways that make it seem like your making a big deal out of things but if your not an idiot you can tell the difference. So like, they'll sit there and say we gave you 3% more than we gave you the last time, but the total that they should have given was this much, so really they gave you this much less in dollar amounts, but in comparison to another organization it’s this much more. It’s trash.

They basically did that to the Unity House, it was the one that funds speak as an organization and the cuts to the Unity House made it so that our ALANA graduation where we get our stolls, that’s in jeopardy, so they have to choose between the ALANA graduation, the social justice trip like the African American day parade, or speak. And so nobodys, gonna sit there and let the ALANA graduation go, that's like a staple. Nobody is gonna be okay with that. So then it ended up being between Speak and the social justice trip.

So the first one to get cut was the social justice trip, there is no African American day parade next year that happens every year, we're not going to anymore. And that's all to keep S.P.E.A.K. going, but speak takes a lot of money as well and they don't have money to split between S.P.E.A.K. and ALANA so they keep ALANA there gonna have to let go of speak, so if they just gave more money in the first place to our centers they will have no issue doing all of these things, but that's not what they choose to do.

And then for the orgs that aren't run through speak and are run through SGA, they basically gave us fucking pennies. For instance but for HOD( House of Deliberations) , last year we won org of the year, we were gonna ask for 10K to run our org, they cut down a lot of stuff, and that they would give us about 8,800 before the final final final cut. Throughout the summer it was looking like 8 K final, that's it, pretty much that's all we're gonna be getting, which we had no problem with because at the end of the day we can finesse it, were an organization that in total had I think 1100 for 3 years. We were fine with that, just to come back on campus and they say we only have 1800 to run for both semesters total, period.

Bro it was ridiculous, so they're gonna sit there and say we gave you 700 more than we gave you last year because last year they gave us 1100, and this year they gave us 1800 but what they keep not talking about is how they were supposed to give us 8000. Not 1800, but 8000. So you gave us literally i don't even know how much less that we cant even run on this much money, and there doing that to every multi cultural org I know, has gotten a cut like that. So we raised a fuss about that , that's how we got all those protests that were happening last semester, cause we raised a fuss about that and said were getting undercut and we need to know what orgs get the most, how they do the distribution and all that stuff and they basically said, they distribute based on which organizations make the biggest impact on campus based on events and which ones sustain members.

Which is all bullshit because HOD has a high membership that we pertain and keep getting members, we host great events, like yall are trash. They use alot of technicalities to bullshit black orgs, so lets say while we would get money to BSU and ASA ( African Student Association) and Carribean Students Association and ULS if it weren't for the fact that all the infinity groups are almost like duplicates of one another. Which is highly offensive if you want me to be completely real with you.

Your telling me you think ASA is a duplicate of BSU when BSU is black student union and ASA is african student association, they were basically like we don't give money to duplicate groups like that and lump us together. And this is no dig to theatre but they give money to 20 Cent Fiction and The Theatre Company, and I understand that they have shows they gotta put on, but they also give the 2nd and 3rd most amount of money were video game club and super smash bros, again no dig to them, but if you think BSU can hold an African Night, why cant super smash bros club have a smash bros night. So things like that, we have had to sit there and fight and nobody wants to sit there and tell us this is the actual difference, this is the reason why, there is no reason why super smash bros should have 17000, but you have over here 5 different affinity groups trying to pull their money together to host one event together, because they don't have enough money to do it individually.This school is wild, i'm gonna say it like that, this school is wild.

How do you feel about white students on campus and are there things you wish they would do differently?

I don't really know, it sounds weird to say out loud but I don't think that I interact with that many white students on campus like that. Maybe it's a hi and bye type of thing, or maybe you have a few friends but I don't think I have that much exposure to the community to know what they do and don't do. The only time that I really got frustrated with the white students on campus was during that whole black lives matter thing that was happening. Or whenever HOD has any type of race related topic and people wanna get mad about the race related topic. That's usually when I get frustrated because it's like alright, we're gonna have the same conversation that we've had the last 3 years over and over again. And we're supposed to be college educated students so it's like we shouldn't be having the same discussion but it is the same discussion, and you explain the same things.

The day after trump got elected, they had a whole thing at BSU where they basically called all the eboard members of the multicultural groups together and they decided that, that night they would write Black Lives Matter in the Larts overpass, I wasn't part of the eboard like everyone else and I saw it, and it was cool, and it inspired a lot, but literally within the hour it was defaced. I think the black was changed to all. So then I remember the janitors came out and we fixed it, they said we couldn't do it with markers and that we could only do it with sticky notes. So we put it up in full sticky notes to say black lives matter but the sticky notes were easy to be rearranged so then they rearranged to it all lives matter, so then we went and changed it back to black lives matter and they started taking the sticky notes off entirely and literally you'd see white students walking by just having conversation and ripping sticky notes off. I was like bro what the fuck. It's like the hallway overpass is windows, you can see up from outside, you can see people rip it off from outside, you can see people rip it off from Larts, just from everywhere I saw it was one big joke just ripping it off. So we just went back and put it up again but we put it up in multi colored sticky notes this time, to make it look like this mural and it was mad beautiful, and literally less than 2 minutes later you have people coming by and ripping it off, it came to a point where people were taking shifts to actually watch it at night.

That whole thing was very very irritating. It was to the point where the janitors would let us into the building at night when they would lock the door and let us stay up there to see what is going on because some of the janitors thought well this is kinda fucked up because people put stuff up there all the time, and it never really gets defaced like the AIDS benefit so its like, they knew the gravity of the situation was that we were putting this up as a statements and people were ripping it down to be assholes. The janitors were pretty cool about it.

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