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Local Activists Say FSU's New Task Force On Racial Inequality Has No Teeth

A young black woman holds a microphone in one hand and a phone in the other.
Robbie Gaffney
Regina Joseph took part in a protest Saturday that called for the removal of the Francis Eppes statue from Florida State University's campus.

Multiple advocacy groups say Florida State University's new task force on racial inequality isn't enough to make real change. The groups say the school has a history of making decisions, then walking them back.

Florida State University's Black Student Union, the Students for a Democratic Society, and local activists are criticizing the college's creation of a task force to address racial inequality. The university's announcement follows Saturday's protest over a statue of Francis Eppes by Westcott Fountain. Eppes was a white slave owner from the 1800s. A separate task force recommended the statue be removed a few years ago, but it has yet to be taken down.

"We see at Florida State University this complete and utter unwillingness to do anything like significant for black issues," Tallahassee Community Action Committee's Delilah Pierre says.

Pierre is calling for the removal of any mention of Eppes from the campus. That includes Eppes Hall. It's a motion Students for a Democratic Society's Val Bernon supports:

"Realistically, I don't know how we can address racism in FSU if we still have such huge symbolic figures that were slave owners, that were racist."

FSU says it's creating the task force to move forward in addressing the challenges different students face and includes a list of seven areas it wants to address:

  • Town Hall meetings with student organizations, faculty and staff, and alumni, including identity and affinity groups representing Black and LatinX members of the campus community
  • A review of the report from the President’s Advisory Panel on University Namings and the development of a plan for assessment and implementation
  • Creation of an educational outreach program about FSU’s history and relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida
  • The Division of Student Affairs will launch the Student Equity and Inclusion Office, a resource office focused on further educating, training, and implementing programs and services aimed at fostering a more inclusive student experience.
  • Implementation of mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all students, faculty and staff to commence Fall semester 2020
  • Intensifying efforts to recruit, support and retain students, faculty and staff from underrepresented groups. Part of this effort includes the administration of a campus climate survey during Fall semester to identify and mitigate barriers to recruitment and retention of faculty and staff from underrepresented groups.
  • Partnering with FSUPD to administer anti-bias training to officers and establish a Community Relations liaison within the force. Additionally, the University will request that an FSU student representative be appointed to the TPD Community Review Board.

*Editors Note: This story has been updated to include the list of areas FSU wants to address with its task force.

Updated: July 7, 2020 at 9:03 AM EDT
Updated: July 7, 2020 at 9:03 AM EDT
Updated to include a list of issues FSU wants to address with it's task force.
Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.