LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Drive south down 8th Street in Louisville and on one side is Spalding's new athletic complex. Drive down a bit further and there is Simmons College on the other side of West Kentucky Street, which some Simmons students say is not the only thing that separates the two schools.
"When our students go outside and look at that field, it's almost as if white privilege is being dangled in front of their face," Simmons College Director of Communications Krystal Goodner said. "That's what it is."
"Somebody, I don't know who had the audacity to name this field across the street from us the field of dreams," Simmons College professor Jecorey Arthur said. "Whose dreams?"
According to Simmons College President Kevin Cosby, the college had tried to buy the property that the Spalding athletic complex now occupies years earlier and that the Ford Motor Company had even approached Simmons College to partner together to build an advanced manufacturing plant, which ended up falling through.
"We didn't have the resources, nor did we have the connections with the people who have the resources," he said.
Cosby and Simmons College hosted its first "Truthful Tuesday," a forum that will be held on the fourth Tuesday of every month, after Cosby said he listened to students who were disappointed by the lack of resources that Simmons and other HBCUs around the country experience when compared to other institutions of higher education. He said while it was a discussion about Spalding's new fields with students that led to the "Truthful Tuesdays," this is not meant as an attack on Spalding or any other university, instead a call to action to level the educational playing field.
"There's something wrong when development is taking place on the other colleges and universities and on this historic campus, the last building was built by slaves," he said.
Cosby said Simmons College is asking for regional accreditation, student scholarships and student housing, improved infrastructure, student internships and more access to technology.
Cosby also said there is no animosity or tension between him and Spalding and its president, Tori McClure, calling McClure a colleague and a friend. He said he hopes Spalding and other colleges will not view Simmons as an adversary but rather as an ally.
In a statement, McClure wrote, "Spalding greatly values diversity in all our endeavors. Further, Spalding has been committed to its neighborhood for 100 years, and we continue to do our part to improve it. The property where the fields are built was acquired more than five years ago on an unused former industrial site, and we are proud of how the transformation that's taken place there will help the community."