Chancellor Jones’ call to action for University students

By Taylor Howard

On Sunday morning, Chancellor Robert Jones addressed the Champaign-Urbana community and university students sharing his experiences as being a Black man in America. 

In the first-person narrative, Jones discussed his pain, frustration and sympathy towards families who have lost their loved ones to racial injustices and police brutality. One of the cities he talked about, Minneapolis, is where Jones lived for nearly 40 years. 

“In a just and fair world, no one should ever watch the life forced out of another human being — much less by those who are sworn to serve and protect us all,” Jones said.

The Chancellor said that despite the racial injustices that are happening in the U.S., he challenges people to make a difference – starting with institutions and organizations in the C-U community.  

“For me, that accountability begins right here at home — with my own personal authority, with my own university and with the American higher education system.”

Jones stated that he anticipates “fostering and feeding the community” through helping students learn how to organize and protest safely and continuing to promote inclusivity and equity. 

Leah Rogers, former i-Connect facilitator, said it is necessary for college students to have support from the university. 

“We need to have someone to have our [Black students] back,” Rogers said. “As a learning institution, I hope they will teach us the importance of protesting and encourage us to share our identities.” 

Jones has not stated exactly what the university will do to promote diversity on campus, but he encouraged students to use their voices and exercise their rights. He said he “will not hesitate — mask on and appropriately socially distanced — to stand with them and add [his] voice to theirs.”

Photo courtesy of University of Illinois