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New assistant director at AASU raises questions, makes history

The African American Student Union welcomed athletic training freshman Torey McCleskey as its new Assistant Director with open arms. The unspoken question is how McCleskey, white by race, works for the AASU?

Giovannie Medina, public relations junior and student body vice president, hired McCleskey based on the criteria outlined: the candidate must work very hard and be fully aware of the responsibilities being assigned, show strong leadership skills and be a successful team player. Medina said McCleskey met the requirements best, regardless of his race.

“Questions will always be raised when we’re making history,” Medina said. “This decision speaks to the main goal of AASU.”

The AASU constitution states “The African American Student Union (AASU) is responsible for the development and implementation of cultural enrichment through activities and educational workshops that reflect the various interests of the University of North Florida student body with a special focus on the African American culture. We do stress, however, that it is a culturally based organization open to all ethnic groups.”

McCleskey said while the name of the agency may make it seem like it is only for African American students, he believes it is growing into something bigger.

“We have expanded from the original AASU — which concentrated mainly on African-American culture — to worldwide cultural awareness to eliminate differences,” McCleskey said.

McCleskey’s addition to the AASU team sets an example for the rest of the students that AASU’s doors are open to all, Medina said, thus promoting cultural diversity and awareness.

“I think it’s a shame when people come in and ask ‘What’s a white guy doing working for AASU?’ rather than asking for my credentials first,” McCleskey said.

McCleskey presented his resume in front of the Student Government board where his selection took place.

“What do you think when you hear African American Student Union?” Sitou Byll-Cataria, Student body president asked. “A body of African Americans, right? AASU invites people of all ethnicities to come together, and I think Torey’s addition will attract another part of the student body to AASU. It will open doors to those who question whether this is solely an African-American agency.”

AASU’s involvement with Black History month kept the entire staff busy. McCleskey’s dedication and hard work at the events showed the Student Government he was apt for the job, Cataria said.

“We are indeed making history,” Cataria said.

McCleskey lived in Bonaire, Netherlands, where the population is mostly dark-skinned. While living there, he said he faced multiple instances of discrimination and feels as though he knows the struggle African-Americans and others may face here.

“I’ve been through it all too, I just don’t see why skin color should matter at all.”

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Comments (7)

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  • P

    PamelaFeb 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Kick Torey out! This is ridiculous!

  • P

    PamelaFeb 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Torey are you Jewish?? You are a dumba$$ race traitor! Why on earth would Black students want a WINO(White in name only) to represent them??? Something stinks to high heaven!

  • A

    April CFeb 18, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Why are people talking about being a member of the AASU, attending a certain number of events and being on campus for 2 years as criteria now, only after he has been appointed? If those were requirements it should have been posted within the job description from the beginning and not used later as an excuse to protest. How ironic.

  • N

    not amusedFeb 18, 2011 at 7:49 am

    What irks me about his appointment is not because he’s white, but because there are other individuals who has spent a longer time in the organization, on campus, and are better qualified for the position at this present moment.
    Maybe after he has spent two or more years on campus and as a participating member of the AASU organization, then maybe he will have the (or some solid) qualifications to become assistant president/president. After two years, he would’ve made special bonds and friends with fellow members of the AASU to build their trust and respect but unfortunately the student body has probably ruined all hope of this situation taking place by appointing a freshmen to a high position.
    Yet, i believe McCleskey is probably the only white guy who could successfully asst direct the AASU due to the fact he’s not from the U.S., but the Netherlands. In any case, a good leader needs to gain the respect of the organization(the people) before leading.
    I would like to see the student body elect a freshman black male to head the Jewish student union over already qualifiable candidates.

  • O

    OspreyFeb 18, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Yes, what a complete lie ! Torey was not active in any events

  • U

    UNF StudentFeb 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

    The statement: “McCleskey’s dedication and hard work at the events showed the Student Government he was apt for the job” is a lie. Before Torey was hired, he WAS NOT aa member of AASU nor did he attend ANY of the events.

  • N

    Not HappyFeb 16, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Making “History” seems more important to SGA than what is the best option for the students.