North Texas Daily

UNT Black Student Union wants to strengthen Denton race relations

UNT Black Student Union wants to strengthen Denton race relations

January 20
12:52 2016

Chelsea Watkins | Staff Writer


UNT’s Black Student Union will partner with the Denton Together Coalition, a group that explores race relations and issues in Denton, to serve as the link between the student body and Denton leaders.

Denton Mayor Chris Watts officially established the coalition in November 2015. Members include representatives from UNT, Texas Woman’s University, North Central Texas College, Denton’s League of United Latin American Citizens, the county NAACP, the Denton Police Department and other school districts in the area. And now with the BSU included, its findings can flow directly to the UNT student body.

BSU President Lauren Hardgraves sees the coalition taking steps toward meaningful and restorative changes in the community.

“The coalition’s efforts are not patronizing in any way,” she said. “Being next to a group like that is beneficial for everyone in the city. Now students not only have a voice at UNT, but also a voice in Denton.”

The BSU hopes to sponsor a town hall meeting on campus, Hargraves said.

“In the future, the coalition hopes to have more students present at meetings and assisting in planning various unity programs throughout the year,” she said, volunteering BSU to be the catalyst to that exchange.

She described race relations in Denton as somewhat strained.

“Denton has recently had to confront a series of racially charged incidents in both our city and the greater North Texas region,” she said. “I believe most of the citizens of Denton are well-meaning [and] have good intentions but we have forgotten to build relationships with one another. Denton has expanded tremendously in a very short period of time.”

Pat Smith, the executive director of Serve Denton and vice-chairman of the coalition, said the group wants to build trust across Denton’s multicultural population, ensure racial justice in the community and come up with solutions to the problems.

“The coalition is important because it provides a forum for our community to resolve race relation issue before they make the front page of the paper or the evening news,” Smith said.

The Together Coalition will host three town hall meetings open to the public in February held at different college campuses in the region. They will be from noon to 1 p.m. on Feb. 4 at NCTC, Feb. 11 at UNT and Feb. 18 at TWU. The meeting rooms have not yet been specified.

General group meetings are every third Thursday of the month at 1:30 pm in the City Council Work Room at City Hall on 215 E McKinney St. They are open to the public.

“We believe that this is how Denton can holistically address racial reconciliation, genuinely serving and actively building relationships,” Hardgraves said.

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