On Friday, April 3rd, 2020, Florida Atlantic University sent out an email regarding the FAU Cares Emergency Fund. On May 1st, 2020, the same day the first round of stimulus checks went out, the FAU Cares grant of $1,200 was disbursed to students who applied and met the requirements. This fund can be used for education-related expenses such as room, board, tuition and personal expenses.
Though this opportunity sounds amazing and arguably a great and easy way to get a little extra cash in your pocket during this pandemic, the Black community at FAU has spoken out about the “Donation” video FAU created in order to ask for funds to help students financially. The video that flared up the community was of Ms. Pearl, a black woman who manages the Atlantic Dining Hall known to be a face of FAU, who is dressed in her cafeteria work uniform, begging for monetary donations to be sent to the school.
Now, the reason why the black community is angry at this is because, as one black FAU student stated on Twitter:
If you’ve ever been to the dining hall on the Boca Raton Campus, you’ve probably seen her walking around interacting with students, or if you haven’t seen her you’ve definitely heard her. Being that Ms. Pearl’s energy, positivity, and humor is loved and cherished by the Black FAU community, students are not here for her being the face of “donations”.
As I watched and listened closely to the seemingly low budget video, I took note of her body language and the words she uttered. Though she looked very passionate and seemed to genuinely care, the video can be compared to those commercials about feeding homeless children for just twenty-five cents a day.
In the video she states, “Please all we’re doing is asking for your help…I know what it feels like to be struggling and trying to survive…Help support our kids. Please! Please!” Some students believe that she was brainwashed or taken advantage of into believing that this promo video or really this “cry for help” video was purely all for the support and betterment of students, but was really a way for FAU to make more money.
Though the FAU Cares grant is definitely helpful for impacted students, the fact that FAU decided to choose a black older woman to ask for donations is concerning and quite disrespectful to the Black community. Stereotyping much?
Another FAU student went to Twitter stating:
If you know about the minority check otherwise known as the Corporate America’s Diversity and Inclusion check, then you would understand where this student is coming from. Basically, every business or company gets an extra check if they have minority employees or students within their entity. You can learn more about this in Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan’s book “Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity & Inclusion Pays Off”.
With that being said, Black FAU is not happy with this video of Ms. Pearl asking for donations. Of all promotional videos that FAU has made starring majority white staff and students, why make the donation video where FAU is begging for money, a black face or better yet a black face of a woman?
On behalf of the Black community at FAU, we would like to have our voices heard by upper division executives and have this video removed and remade with: diversity and unity (blacks, whites, asians, ect.), better quality and video editing, a script (that doesn’t sound like the university is begging but more so asking with purity and compassion), include a link or more information on how people can donate and where they can donate it IN the video, and most importantly respect and having an unconventional outlook on each culture/race of our students/staff.