PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Carnegie Mellon University has issued an apology after a map used by the university to show the campus and the surrounding area omitted predominantly black neighborhoods.
It was handed out to every new student at Carnegie Mellon University, published on the admission’s website and was also hanging on the wall in the University Center until just a short time ago.
The illustrated map showed the location of campus and surrounding neighborhoods, but something was missing.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller talked to one woman who said she was so frustrated by the oversight that she decided to make her own “map” and print it on a t-shirt.
“As you can see the white spaces here, this is not quite what Pittsburgh looks like,” said Ebony Thomas, pointing at a map published by Carnegie Mellon University. “And that white space is where those black neighborhoods should be.”
Carnegie Mellon used this map in many forms until recently, when students posted about it on social media and demanded action.
Thomas does not work at the school or attend classes there, but she did something she calls a “clap back.”
“I made a design called ‘Hood Lives Matter,’ which represents the black neighborhoods,” Thomas said.
Her shirt design highlights Homewood, Larimer, the Hill District, Uptown, East Hills, Hazlewood and Garfield.
She is selling them online and a portion of the money will go to the Urban League.
“There’s a lot of culture in these black neighborhoods and it was just so frustrating that they made the choice for us, to tell the students where to go and how to experience the city,” Thomas said.
Carnegie Mellon apologized, saying it was sorry for the “inadvertent error” and the “hurt it caused.”
Student David Widder wrote a letter to the school’s president and provost.
“This is institutional racism on paper, on-screen and on the walls of a building in the heart of our university,” Widder said.
When reached by KDKA, Carnegie Mellon issued this statement, saying:
“Carnegie Mellon University should have never used this map, as it fails to uphold our values of inclusion, equity and diversity. We sincerely apologize for this mistake and the hurt it created. We know we must do better and are committed to learning from this and making immediate and longer-term changes as a result.
“This map was developed as a resource for incoming Carnegie Mellon students with the intention of identifying some of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods that students frequently visit. While it highlighted select communities by name, it failed to include others, some of which are historically black Pittsburgh communities. We recognize the value, richness and history of these excluded neighborhoods, which makes our mistake especially painful.
“While we can never fully rectify the harm done, we have removed all print and digital materials that feature the map. We have set up meetings with campus community members who have reached out to us, in addition to others who are committed to engaging and advising the university on diversity and inclusion initiatives. A committee on campus is already working to identify and implement better practices to foster a more welcoming, respectful and inclusive environment for everyone in the CMU community, including all of our neighbors.”