UC student creates action plan to address racial inequality on campus

In the wake of widespread protests to promote racial equality following the death of George Floyd, now more than ever conversations are happening around the nation on how to promote diversity and racial inclusivity. Even at the University of Cincinnati, students are educating senior leadership and asking for a seat at the table to discuss important race-related issues about how UC can cultivate a campus that creates a safe space for Black students. Camryn Morrow is one of the many UC students leading this charge.

Camryn Morrow headshot

A Cincinnati native, Morrow is currently a third-year student within the Human Development and Community Engagement (HDCE) undergraduate program offered within the School of Education at UC's College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services. Morrow attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts in downtown Cincinnati where she explored her love for community relations. She's had experiential learning opportunities through the non-profit organizations Magnified Giving and Breakthrough Cincinnati, where she was introduced to community work during her middle school years.

While Morrow is very involved within the university, finding the program that aligned with her passions wasn't the easiest experience. She started her college career majoring in sociology committed to pursuing non-profit and community work. Not certain that sociology would lead her to have a thriving career, she sought help from Kellie Jette, the HDCE program coordinator. 

I was just at this standstill. I had all of these passions, and I didn't know what to do with them. Kellie Jette told me that the Human Development program would allow me to work in and with my community and gain real-world experience. I've just had the time of my life!

Camryn Morrow

During her first year at UC, Morrow accepted an internship with the non-profit organization Breakthrough Cincinnati where she was able to develop a list of college preparation and access programs in the tri-state area and construct a web-based resource toolkit to be accessed by students and families. She has taken what she has learned during her internship and applied this in her academic coursework and leadership positions on campus.

Yet, with the pervasiveness of racism created a groundswell of racial inequality awareness in 2020 alone, many companies and organizations have turned inward to reexamine their existing policies and missions to address their stance on race and diversity. Camryn, among many of her peers, has brought to the forefront issues they found to be relevant to the faculty and leadership at UC.

Camryn Morrow headshot

In July 2020, Morrow and four other UC student leaders in Undergraduate Student Government initiated a 10-step call to action to address key areas essential to supporting students of color. The goal for the call of action was to create a more racially equitable environment on campus. This plan was created and then sent to President Pinto and his administration for review. 

Also, the plan addressed areas of opportunities in academics, public safety, and mental health services. The university quickly responded to their request and hired an external consulting agency to aid them in this process. This agency is currently working with Morrow, her peers, as well as the Black Round Table, to push these demands forward.

Being in a safe space with like-minded people empowers me and that has made my undergrad experience what it's been, and that is why I am so active and involved in my education and that is what my program is about, being engaged.

Camryn Morrow

The academics segment of the action plan focused on providing more course offerings in the areas of diversity and culture. After performing an audit of the courses that are currently being offered, Morrow and her peers noticed that many of the courses do not align with guidelines outlined by the office of the provost and encouraged the administration to include a student to be present with the faculty committee reviews and approves these courses. 

Mental Health support and counseling is another aspect Morrow and her peers brought to the administration's attention. In 2019, the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) facility at UC lost its only psychologist of color. While students seek CAPS services for many reasons, Morrow and the members of the Undergraduate Student Government understand the importance of having a Black psychologist trained in race-based trauma to support students of color.

Although CAPS is local to UC's campus, many students don't utilize this service because they feel underrepresented or dissatisfied with their counseling experience. Fortunately, the administration has committed to implementing an inclusive search process in hopes to make a more comfortable counseling experience for students of color.

Morrow believes the HDCE program has played a tremendous role by giving her a greater understanding of how development affects an individual's experiences in the world and exposing her to the role that community plays in initiating social change. All of which has given her the confidence to take lead on issues on race relations on campus.

With the help from fellow students, faculty, and staff, Morrow has become an outstanding student, leader, and philanthropist. While she juggles being part of UC's Undergraduate Student Government, a scholarship recipient in the Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program, and University Honors Program, she is also the founder of Sister Outsiders, a book club for women of color.

She is a recipient of many awards, including this year's Ruby and Onyx Gala's Student Trailblazer Award, 2020 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, and CECH's 2020 Outstanding Student Award, and many more. In addition, she is also featured in CECH's Be Historic Black History Month campaign. While many of her leadership opportunities have given her valuable experience in cross-functional collaboration and changing policies, she greatly appreciates the Human Development and Community Engagement program for giving her the competencies and knowledge to be successful through its coursework and hands-on experience.

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