Missouri State Students Continue to Demand the Dismissal of University Official

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Cortlynn Stark, The Black Bear – Juan Meraz, Assistant Vice President for Multicultural Services, was accused of racial discrimination and abuse of power by the Springfield Coalition for Minority Advancement (SCMA).

A news conference was held Tuesday where three members of SCMA detailed exactly why they want Meraz removed from Missouri State University following Monday’s protest where they called for his immediate dismissal.

“He has demonstrated, through racial discrimination and abuse of power, his inability to lead effectively in roles that require cultural competence and ethical leadership,” SCMA member Xavier Torres-Ghoston said. “As a result of his parasitic supervision, racial division among multicultural students manifests in organizations and programs.”

The coalition demanded the immediate removal of Meraz from MSU by Feb. 1.

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Students demanding Juan Meraz’s dismissal in front of Carrington Hall Photo Credit: Khadijah Forrest, The Black Bear

This demand was not met but they still provided a list of demands of the university.

This list includes:

  • no resignation or reassignment of Meraz but direct dismissal
  • a public statement explaining this dismissal
  • stronger commitment from the MSU to employ Hispanics in administrative positions, provided they share the value and commitment to diverse populations
  • provide the public with all accessible evidence

SCMA also addressed an audio file recorded last fall that they released to the public Monday.

A male voice, purportedly belonging to Meraz, stated his opinion to an unidentified student about the November “Stand With Mizzou” protest  as well as a population of MSU multicultural students.

The coalition stated that the released recording is only a small portion of the entire conversation, which reportedly is about an hour in length.

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Students host a “Stand With Mizzou” sit-in in the PSU Photo Credit: Charles Pyatt, The Black Bear

 

When asked why they have not released the entire audio file yet, SCMA member Ravyn Brooks said the rest of the recording was redundant. However, she added that they may release more portions of the recording at a later date.

Brooks presented a list of university policies SCMA found to be violated by Meraz.

According to the members, Meraz violated the university wide non-discrimination policy and prohibition of discrimination and harassment policies.

“He has corrupted the department of multicultural services,” Ghoston said.

SCMA members also accused him of violating his own job description.

According to Brooks, Meraz’s job description states that he must have strong verbal and written communication skills.

“He violated this by cursing and using intimidation tactics,” Brooks said, referring to the audio recording.

On the recording, the male voice said, “We’ve got Latinos being lynched more than black people in the south,” which, he adds, continues today.

When talking about the Multicultural Resource Center, the voice says it is “a hostile environment to anyone who is not black.”

“The words that he said were incredibly discriminatory and incredibly racist, quite frankly,” SCMA member Shawna Berkley said. “That’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Many students have also been incredibly supportive of Meraz, posting their support on social media and sending their support directly to him.

A petition was started on Change.org in support of Meraz. As of 9 a.m. Thursday, it had more than 2,000 signatures.

For an extended period of time, Meraz was silent regarding the recent allegations. On Wednesday, he posted on Facebook: “I am completely overwhelmed by the out pour of e-mails, texts, instant messages, phone calls, messages and face book posts on my behalf. I appreciate and value everyone of you and can never express my total and complete gratitude.”

On Wednesday, the SCMA started a petition of their own through change.org continuing to demand for Meraz’s removal. As of 9 a.m. Thursday morning, the petition has 30 supporters.

 

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