Petition about the House of Black Culture’s future presented to faculty

By Liz Hardaway, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Right before the faculty meeting started on April 17, an unexpected guest voiced his thoughts on the future of the House of Black Culture (HBC).

Senior Jemil Ahmed shared his petition, which included 124 signatures from students, stating his and other students’ concerns for the fate of the cultural hub and the rich history of HBC.

“We ask for guarantee that the house be renovated and the house and land will be preserved for [HBC],” the petition stated. Students wanted assurance of this request by Wednesday, April 19.

President Rock Jones acknowledged the petition in an email sent Tuesday evening to multiple students who signed the petition.

Jones recognized the disrepair the building fell into, and has appointed an advisory group to explore all options for the community.

The advisory group includes three alumni, three faculty, three administrators and six students.

“[The] committee has heard how important this is to students,” said Nancy Comorau, associate professor of English and a member of the advisory group.

Jones wrote that it would be inappropriate to make any decision about HBC prior to receiving the advisory group’s input.

“The Advisory Group is undertaking its work in a thoughtful, comprehensive manner,” Jones said in the email. “No one is being ‘evicted’ from the dwelling.”

The petition stated that if renovations were not guaranteed for HBC by Wednesday, the group will meet with other advocacy groups to further its request.

Once the meeting officially commenced, faculty voted to approve three new majors. Faculty approved the film studies program and an environment and sustainability program, which will include a major and minor. A resolution also passed allowing students to receive a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in microbiology and geology.

Tom Wolber, associate professor of modern foreign languages, also gave a statement expressing his concerns for the lack of funding for pedagogical conference grants since the 2015-16 academic year, citing this as a reason for the dramatic decline of applications for this academic year. “Given OWU’s nature as a teaching institution, it is critical to encourage faculty to participate in pedagogical workshops and conferences and make the necessary resources available,” Wolber said in his statement.

Wolber said he was troubled by the discontinuation of the Performing Arts Series because of financial restrictions found in the year-end report conducted by Ohio Wesleyan’s Committee on Teaching, Learning, and Cross-Cultural Programming (TLCCP).

A committee is still working on getting the academic calendar for 2018-19 because of some contention that arose during the meeting.

Memorial resolutions were also approved for Jed Burtt, a zoology professor, and Kim Lance, a chemistry professor. Their memorials were written by Professor Ramon Carreno and Professor Dan Vogt respectively.

On April 20, the HBC Advisory Group will hold a live, online chat to discuss the house’s future and role in the community.