Seton Hall students stage walkout, demand support for Africana Studies program

Anthony Johnson Image
Thursday, May 4, 2023
Seton Hall students demand support for Africana Studies program
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Students staged a walkout at Seton Hall University on Wednesday, demanding support for the school's Africana Studies program. Anthony Johnson has the story.

SOUTH ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Students at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, walked out of class in protest in an effort to raise awareness for the Africana Studies program.

The walk out turned into a sit in at the university's president's office. Students say the school falsely advertises an Africana Studies program that has a faculty shortage. They say only a limited number of students can attend and it's often dropped because the school is not committed to the program.

"I came in wanted to go into pre-law programs and they said Africana Studies programs was not the route to do political science so students are actually discouraged from taking Africana courses," student Jayde Dieu said.

"We don't have resources, we don't have professors and we don't have the support that we need," student Tawanna Brown said.

A similar protest took place back in 2018. Seton Hall was the first university to offer Africana Studies in 1970, but students say over the years the university has moved away from supporting the program.

The former director of Africana Studies at Seton Hall says the school is failing to support courses dealing with social issues.

"If they really want to build a program, you have to have multiple faculty in there so you can offer the students a robust program," said University of Pennsylvania Professor Kelly Harris.

Wednesday's protestors are comprised of a diverse group of students. The university issued a statement saying:

"Seton Hall University enthusiastically supports the discipline of Africana Studies and underscores how vital it is for all our students, independent of their major field of study, to be able to learn about their (and other) cultures, histories, and identities."

But the students see things differently.

"We came here hoping to get this education that's offered online, it says 'lively and thriving, Africana Studies, the first in New Jersey,' you know the first university to have it and they're not giving us the resources," student Elizabeth Tescum said.

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