BenU’s Problem With Racial Incidents Has Deep Roots

Front entrance, Benedictine University

The Candor Staff

candor logoBenedictine basketball coach Keith Bunkenburg allegedly used a racial slur during an unofficial basketball practice Tuesday. This is not the first-time racial insensitivity has occurred at BenU, especially within the Spring semester.  

“We need to hold Benedictine accountable, why do we continue to have racial incidents happen at our institution, it’s because our institution is rooted in racism,” Keewaun Stokes of the Black Student Union.

In February, a professor used the N-word while auditing a class, she was trying to describe the difference in language usage between generations. Also, in the past few years, another faculty member used the word in class and a student also wrote it on a whiteboard.

The reaction this semester on campus was strong, with many people still hurt by that incident.

“I feel ignored 100%, a lot of black students know how to deal with issues of racism, and know that this is what we need to expect,” said senior Jennifer Brown Griffin. “The difference is the University says they want to be anti- racist and all those different things. They want to be one thing but don’t follow up with it.”

“I wrote a statement about racism earlier this year, but things haven’t changed,” added Griffin.

BenU is not alone with incidents of racial insensitivity on campus. The University of Ottawa made headlines in 2019 due to a racial issue.

Jamal Koumiye-Boyce, a black student at the University of Ottawa, tweeted about being handcuffed for two hours and then questioned by Ottawa police after campus security stopped him and asked for ID, according to the Ottawa Citizen. He was accused of doing a skateboard trick on his way to class.

An external investigator hired by the university later found that race played a role in the episode. While the president of the university did apologize, Koumiye-Boyce was unhappy at how the institution has since dealt with the underlying issues.

“Their response has been so surface-level. Security still does not receive bias training, and black students continue to be asked for ID,” stated Koumiye-Boyce, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

University President sent the following email to the campus community Wednesday:

Yesterday evening we became aware of an alleged incident involving a member of our coaching staff making a racially insensitive remark. We immediately launched what will be a thorough investigation. However, as we move forward, let me be clear: We have zero tolerance for this behavior. We will not allow or tolerate racially insensitive remarks. We will not allow any member of our community to suffer from racial incidents or actions.

Our behavior must reflect what we value as a Benedictine and Catholic community. This is a place where all are welcome, diversity is a strength and the foundation of our community rests with the idea that everyone contributes to the commonality of our values and mission. Let it not be forgotten that our environment and our culture is about being considerate and compassionate towards those we learn with, work with, and worship with.

That is Benedictine.

“(Benedictine) needs to acknowledge it (racism) more. If they don’t acknowledge it, then nothing changes,” stated alumni Walter Taylor.

Robert Schroeder, Kailey McNally, Kulsum Farooqui, Rida Fatima, Benjamin Coleman, Fia Dudish-Poulsen Brennen Hudson contributed to this story.