Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

NAACP chapter brings benefits for campus

Augustana College’s new chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an important step forward in the college’s quest to truly embrace and foster diversity on campus. I am grateful to have had a chance before I graduate to join a student chapter of such an organization.
The NAACP is one of the oldest United States civil rights organizations that has been fighting for decades “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination,” according to their mission statement.
That is also the first of the six major objectives of the NAACP, but it encapsulates the spirit of all the rest, which outline the specific legal, educational and act.
Having a chapter on campus will help educated and empower the students who are members of the chapter to hold the college, their peers and the public accountable for racism and constitutional rights violations, as stated in their objectives.
There is already a Rock Island County chapter of the NAACP that has a strong presence here in the Quad Cities and on campus, and they helped jump-start the Augustana chapter of the organization, according to Dr. Christopher Whitt, department chair for Political Science and faculty advisor to the NAACP.
I spoke with Dr. Whitt to help get a better understanding of the full impact starting an Augustana chapter would have on both the campus community and the surrounding Quad Cities.
“I really think that [the Augustana chapter of the NAACP] will open the community’s eyes that the students of Augustana College, and Augustana as an institution of higher learning, is open to social justice and civil rights work,” said Dr. Whitt.
“It’s kind of a point of pride that the community outside of Augustana as well as the Augustana community has been able to come together and work for this.”
The founding of this NAACP chapter is certainly a concrete step towards a more socially just and civilly righteous Augustana College in my view as well, and having a chapter of such a storied organization represented on campus is something every member of the college should be proud of. As a Predominately White Institution, inviting the influence of organizations that will challenge us and help us grow more equitably, and away from models of white supremacy, is vital.
As one of the students who has often been a part of student led protests and demonstrations that have had varying levels of successful results, the NAACP will have other benefits to bring to campus beyond just the prestige of such an organization’s presence.
“They’re keeping a constant eye on whats working and whats not working,” said Dr. Whitt, “and they provide a vocabulary and a structure to really have an open dialogue as well as to have the potential for progress, to make things better, in a better way than what you find when people simply react to a problems. You want to head problems off at the pass, and really open the doors of opportunity for everyone.”
This kind of guidance and oversight on both student-led actions and institutional responses will be invaluable to future generations of Augie activists. The beginning of the Augustana NAACP chapter is just one open door of opportunity that has opened on campus. As noted by Dr. Whitt, and as any of the people on campus already involved in the NAACP know, it is hopefully only the first of many more to come.

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NAACP chapter brings benefits for campus