Mountaineer statue closeup.  (WVU Photo/Brian Persinger)

Mountaineer statue closeup.  (WVU Photo/Brian Persinger)

WVU’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion announced a crowdfunding campaign last week to raise funds for scholarships to support underrepresented students.

The campaign will run through Labor Day with the goal of raising $15,000 in scholarships for current and prospective students, the Division announced in a press release. This is a part of the WVU Foundation’s “We Are Stronger Together” initiative to raise funds for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At WVU, underrepresented student groups make up close to 9% of the student body. Historic and systemic financial burdens often make it difficult for them to reach their educational goals, said WVU Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Meshea L. Poore.

“Contributions will make a tremendous impact on the lives of our underrepresented students by providing them the opportunity to proceed with their education, complete their degrees, and achieve their dreams,” Poore said. “Go beyond by sharing this campaign with friends and family members to help elevate the importance of this mission.”

In a Twitter video, Poore called for people to come together in support of these student groups. 

“We need you,” said Poore, “No matter your identity and no matter your personal challenges."

The announcement of the campaign comes a month after a petition from “WVU’s Concerned Black Community” was sent to over 50 parties on June 17 including Poore and University President E. Gordon Gee. Included among the letter’s nine demands was for the University to prioritize budgets for a variety of Black initiatives and programs on campus. 

"We have heard time and time again that our university has students from all 55 counties in West Virginia, all 50 states, and as many as 155 countries,” the letter read. “However, bare numbers do not suffice when Black representation, retention, and experience are suffocating from the lack of institutional support and low programming funds for Black students, faculty, and staff.”

On June 19, following the letter, signed by over 800 people, and other input from the WVU community, Gee established four working groups—led University administrators—to address the letter’s demands. Poore is co-leading the group on campus and community partnership with all of the working groups expected to provide three action items by July 27. 

“We must move from words to action," Gee said last month when announcing creation of the working groups, “This is a commitment to recognize deficits and act quickly to effect change.”