This week, TKS reported on the fact that the operating budget for the Association for Black Culture Centers (ABCC) had not been reinstated in 2015. The ABCC, founded by Professor and Chair of Africana Studies Fred Hord in 1988, is headquartered at Knox and affiliated with over 150 colleges and universities. The center provides support and resources for Black students and cultural groups such as A.B.L.E.
The college is conveniently discontinuing the funding of the ABCC right when Hord is planning on retiring.
As an editorial board, we agree with most of the statements given by senior Justin Bell on behalf of the Knox YDSA regarding the administration’s silencing and disregard for the ABCC, which you can read here.
While we do not ultimately disagree with the decision to pull out of operating an organization we currently do not have enough resources to support, we feel that the treatment of Dr. Hord and the Africana Studies department has gone against what we promote as our values. As an institution with a rich abolitionist history, the Knox administration must do better at keeping those values at the forefront of our curriculum.
Supporting these organizations and helping provide resources would, it seem, be inherent to Knox’s mission statements and core values.
Regarding the ABCC, Knox administration should have made sure to inform Hord and his department of their intention to remove funding for the ABCC’s operating budget during Hord’s temporary leave from Knox. Consequently, administration needed to be more transparent when the operating budget had not been reinstated for several years.
In addition, the knowledge that this is an issue that has ‘slipped through the cracks’ and was ‘not intentional’ is not comforting, but is only further concerning. We worry that other mistakes have been made that have been pushed aside or covered up. We ask the administration to be transparent and to remind themselves of the values and traditions that this institution was founded upon.
As Bell’s letter stated, merely intending to hire a new Africana Studies professor upon Hord’s retirement and using the ABCC’s budget to help pay their salary is not enough. While we are aware many of Knox’s resources are currently going toward re-branding the school in an age where liberal arts colleges — especially Midwestern liberal arts colleges — are struggling financially, we cannot forget about the students that are already here. While it’s a bit of a catch-22, as we cannot always support current students without the financial support from a full staff, focusing on admissions is no excuse for ‘unintentionally’ letting go of a large organization that supports Black students.