Khadijah Forrest, The Black Bear – A group of Missouri State University students are demanding the removal of Juan Meraz, the Assistant Vice President of Multicultural Services, after alleged “inappropriate remarks” by Meraz were made during a recording of a conversation between him and a Hispanic student.
According to a news release sent by Springfield Coalition for Minority Advancement, “His conversation consisted of inappropriate remarks to her and extreme prejudice towards the African-American students and the Multicultural Resource Center.”
The student on the recording along with two African-American students reported their concerns with Meraz in Mid-December.
The report included racial division amongst the multicultural students, discriminatory remarks about African American Students to non-black and non-brown student and faculty, and withholding money from students who were approved to receive the Multicultural Assistant Grant.
Meraz stated on the recording, “They look at me like I owe them money, and I don’t owe them s***!” in reference to African-American students who gather in the Multicultural Resource Center in the Plaster Student Union across from Starbucks.
Suzan Shaw, Vice President for Marketing and Communications, said, “I think that the recording is probably not a fair statement since it was done secretly.”
A petition with almost 100 signatures was submitted to MSU administration asking for Meraz’s dismissal with no resignation or reassignment at the university.
Wes Pratt, who was recently appointed as Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant to the President, said, “I’m proud of the students standing up. That they’re trying to educate about some of the issues that are related to cultural competence.”
On Feb 1., students protested in front of Carrington Hall on campus making a public call to remove Meraz from his position.
However, some students and faculty members stood in support of Meraz.
Shaw stated, “I feel like he has done a good job in leading the diversity experience. He’s been here thirty-five years or thirty years doing that.”
The university released a response Monday that stated, “An initial review, which was jointly led by Wes Pratt, former director of the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC), and Melissa Berry, current interim director for the OIEC, has been completed.”
At this time, Meraz has not released a public statement in regards to the allegations.