Black Business Student Association
Statement Regarding Change in the McCombs School of Business
To support this statement and sign your name, please fill out this form: https://tinyurl.com/McCombsStatementSupport
To the leadership of the McCombs School of Business,
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others by the police force have started the process of reexamining the United States and the racism that has been ingrained in the country for centuries now. The University of Texas has its own dark history that has allowed inequality to linger on campus and disproportionately affect students of color. This time of change and revolution has ignited a call to justice heard around the world. As major corporations have been sacrificing millions of dollars in currency and tradition, it is necessary for UT to make changes as well. It is said at the University of Texas that “What Starts Here Changes the World.” With this list of demands, we hope to inspire other college campuses to have these conversations about better adapting to the needs of their minority students.
Below we, as students of McCombs and members of the Black Business Student Association, have come together and compiled a list of requests that, if addressed, can start the process of creating an institution that meets the needs of all of its students:
McCombs Texas Exes provide more Scholarships for Black students at McCombs
To confront the financial barriers faced by many Black McCombs students, we call for an increase in scholarships dedicated to both incoming and current Black students. The tuition for the McCombs School of Business is higher compared to other schools on campus. Several students pass up McCombs for more affordable options.
Scholarships dedicated to incoming Black students would lessen the financial barrier, which plays a significant role in determining whether or not students decide to attend McCombs, as well as continue with their McCombs education. The Texas Exes organization provides several scholarships, and it would be great for McCombs Alumni to contribute to more incoming Black students interested in pursuing a career in business. We view scholarships as a solution for financial constraints, which can, in turn, lead to an increase in Black student enrollment at the McCombs School of Business.
Incorporate diverse perspectives into BA 324 and other courses and require a Diversity flag course in McCombs
BA 324 is a required course for all undergraduate students in the McCombs School of Business. In BA 324, students learn about professional skills ranging from etiquette to public speaking as tools to help with their success in the corporate world. However, there is no lesson plan in the course that teaches students about cultural awareness. Recognizing how to interact with students of various backgrounds and races helps students who are not forcibly exposed to other perspectives to see and understand others' experiences. Discussing racial awareness will lead to white peers being more understanding of their diverse peers, and prevent some of the inappropriate situations and comments that have occurred in the past.
Another topic that should be covered is the different types of treatment one may receive based on their race in the corporate world and how to handle it professionally. Many students leave McCombs feeling helpless because of the inequality they experience and the lack of resources available to combat that inequality.
We find it extremely important for BA 324 to have these difficult but meaningful conversations with students. Leaving these important discussions out of BA 324 class discussions completely ignores the experiences minorities may face in the corporate world as well as those they face on UT’s campus. One way these topics can be worked into the curriculum is through Black guest speakers presenting their experiences to BA 324 classes once or twice a semester.
Other courses in McCombs should also make it a priority to incorporate the perspectives and voices of minority individuals into lesson plans. Classes in the business school do not make it an effort to show the feats and success of minority individuals nor have conversations about race. We have minority students, and it’s time our courses reflect that through the curriculum.
We also ask that a diversity flag course be taught in McCombs. As it stands, McCombs is one of the only schools in the University of Texas that does not offer a class to satisfy the diversity flag requirement. We say that in McCombs, we value being a socially responsible business school, but how can that be true if it is not reflected in the curriculum. Students need to leave McCombs with knowledge of key business topics, but it is also important for students to embrace diversity and their peers from different backgrounds.
Safe spaces for underrepresented minorities within McCombs
Safe spaces are a necessity for minority students in the McCombs School of Business. In the same way that students in the McCombs Success Scholars program can study, converse and make use of their office space as they please, it would be beneficial for minority students to have an area similar to this.
Currently, the only spaces available in McCombs are the McCombs Success Scholars Lounge, which is only accessible for students within that program as well as the Frito Lay Leadership Center, which is only available by reservation. There is a clear need for additional spaces for students.
It is very common for students to feel out of place in the classroom, and it would be nice for students to feel that they belong at McCombs and have access to resources. As it is, the Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC) on campus is not large enough for the various minority students on campus. With the creation of a space like this, students within McCombs will feel more comfortable without having to seek other spaces for support elsewhere on campus.
Once Black students are admitted and arrive on campus, they feel that the lack of diverse faculty and resources available creates an environment unfavorable for growth and development. Although new faculty are hired each year, there is still a lack of representation in leadership and the classroom. The Office of the Dean has one Black staff member, and the BBA Program Office webpage is not updated with the current faculty and staff, which inaccurately depicts the demographic make-up of staff. This is discouraging for students who expect to be represented and heard by their school leadership, whose role is to guide them through these four years. Of the tenured and tenure-track professors at McCombs, only 3.1% are Black or African American. This needs to change. While we recognize that there is a disproportionate amount of African Americans that pursue professions in higher education, we also see that there is still a large amount of room for improvement.
Additionally, we believe it is necessary for any faculty and staff hired to go through training in a required module discussing racial bias. Having staff aware of topics such as power, privilege, and identity with a focus on racial bias and the harm it ensues will leave students more trusting and willing to inform faculty members of any ongoing issues or injustices.
Efforts to recruit and retain Black students
It will take more than one week dedicated to diversity to make Black business students feel welcomed. We urge McCombs to actively dedicate recruitment efforts towards having more Black undergraduate and graduate students on campus. Including current Black business students in the recruitment efforts will encourage prospective students to choose McCombs and ensure Black voices are heard. While we recognize the present circumstances, there is still much work to be done. BBSA is committed to playing an active role in change.
The lack of transparency concerning racial demographics within McCombs is telling. There are no reports readily available that clearly state the percentage of Black students at McCombs. An update of the student demographics currently displayed on the McCombs website is necessary. We hope to see the percentage of Black students increase over time after increased recruiting efforts. Still, the only public information available combines Black, Native American, and Hispanic students, which portrays an inaccurate representation of the Black student population. We want McCombs to give the percentage of African-American/Black students at McCombs without combining that percentage with other ethnicities as “Underrepresented Minorities.” This transparency would show Black students what percentage they make up within McCombs, and how it can be improved. We believe this information should be provided on the Student Demographics and the Diversity & Inclusion pages of the McCombs School of Business website. Moving forward, this transparency is vital in showing that McCombs is genuinely concerned about increasing diversity to ensure that the student body represents students from various backgrounds.
Beyond recruiting, we believe efforts should be in place to actively retain Black students and create an inclusive environment. The safe spaces and diversity training modules mentioned in the other action items are just the beginning of making this a reality.
Town halls with Dean about the experience as minority students in McCombs
The transition from high school to college can be challenging for students from all backgrounds. It is especially difficult for students from neighborhoods and schools that are not predominantly white like UT. The sudden change of environment can be overwhelming and leave incoming students with imposter syndrome.
It would be in the best interest of our students to connect with the dean at least three times during the semester, depending on demonstrated student interest, to see how their semester at McCombs has been. The mental health of students is vital, so it would be very beneficial for McCombs administrators to express interest in their minority students' well-being. With the support of the Dean of McCombs as well as the Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, students will feel more comfortable speaking up in tough times and confident that the McCombs staff supports them.
Currently, it is very difficult for Black students to feel comfortable within McCombs. We see these demands as a necessary first step to ensuring that students from all backgrounds enjoy their experience and guarantee that their voices are being heard. We humbly implore the Dean’s office to consider these demands to improve not only the black student experience at McCombs, but the entire student body experience because ultimately all students benefit from diversity and inclusion.
The Black Business Student Association
Alani Butler, President
Hephzibah Olajimi, Administrative Vice President
Christina Ebaseh-Onofa, Executive Vice President
Charity Rose, Financial Director
Ejine Uzor, Media Director
Elsie Akaduh, Public Relations Director
Faith Ehioghae, Community Service Director
Jonathan Bailey, Membership Director
Jalen Archer, UBC Representative
Signatures of Support
McCombs Affiliated Student Organizations
John Scholl, Undergraduate Business Council- President
Junfeng Sub, Undergraduate Business Council
Winston Hung, Student Government - Student Body Vice President
Amanda Jackson, McCombs Diversity Council - President
Val Oliobi, Black Business Student Association
Dominique Okello, Black Business Student Association
Jeremy Thompson-Seyon, Black Business Student Association
Nik Vrudhula, Phi Chi Theta - President
Aman Patel, University Management and Business Research Association - President
Natalia Novegil, Management Information Systems Association; President
Vincent Lin, Asian Business Student Association- President
Grace Zhou, Asian Business Student Association - Marketing Team Director
Clarissa Castillo, Hispanic Business Student Association - President
Irving Perez, Hispanic Business Student Association - Professional Vice President
Natalia Gonzalez, Hispanic Business Student Association - Director of Public Relations
Arturo Benitez, Hispanic Business Student Association - Historian
Juan Gonzalez, Hispanic Business Student Association - Treasurer
Angela Iglesias, Hispanic Business Student Association
Anissa Martinez, Hispanic Business Student Association
Joel Melendez, Hispanic Business Student Association
Linda Pinzon, Hispanic Business Student Association
Claire Levinson, Queer Business Student Association- President
Emma Li, Queer Business Student Association- Vice President of Public Relations
Joshua Simmons, Queer Business Student Association- Vice President of Finance
Meredith Macnoll, Texas American Marketing Association - President
Shannon Peifer, Texas American Marketing Association
Jacob Wilson, Alpha Kappa Psi- President
Monica Duffour, Business Association for Transfer Students - President
Kyle Cruz, Target Your Future - Program Manager
Willie J Crawford III
UT/ McCombs Alumni
Aston Welch, McCombs Alumni/ Former BBSA President
Chloe Roberson, McCombs Alumni
Kiersten Warren, UT Alumni
Nicholas Poole, UT Alumni
Ashley Phillips, UT Alumni
Maxine Okwah, UT Alumni
Harrison Fisher, UT Alumni
David Snell Jr. , UT Alumni
Brandon Scott, UT Alumni
Aleyiah Pena, UT Alumni
Jennifer Dang, UT Alumni
Stephanie Vandersteen, UT Alumni
Charlotte Abate, UT Alumni
Cameron C. Merritt, UT Alumni
Ashlei Levrier-Howell, UT Alumni
Michael Hernandez, UT Alumni
Madison Mohns, UT Alumni
Lauren Gilbert, McCombs Alumni
Tanya Hendricks, BBSA Alumni
Alyssa Groves, Alumni
Lynette Adkins, McCombs Alumni
Siji Deleawe, McCombs Alumni
Mbere Monjok, UT Alumni
Shanese Fisher, UT Alumni