CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - More than 100 students, staff and faculty turned out to Southern Illinois University on Thursday to discuss issues of racism, student safety, and budget concerns with SIU's Interim Provost and deans.
Much of the meeting was spent discussing the Illinois budget impasse, which has left the university without state funds since July of 2015.
The crowd at the forum was predominantly black, and students also raised concerns that the university doesn't have enough faculty members of color to serve as role models SIU's minority groups.
College leaders admitted there were lapses in diversity support systems on campus - but assured students that leaders are more than willing to address any such issues facing the student body.
SIU graduate assistant Johnathan Flowers called for a more up-front approach to campus issues on the part of university leaders.
"If they can't even speak publicly about white privilege in relation to higher education, how do they expect to develop a plan that addresses that issue?"
Interim Provost Susan Ford says the university is supportive of students exercising their free speech, but only if it is done so in a peaceful way.
"There really are problems that we see in general society and are reflected here on campus... It's an opportunity for us to start a more intensive effort going forward to try to deal with those issues on campus."
Students say they're also concerned about the possible campus protests on Monday. The university says it is planning safe zones around campus so students feel safe.