Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On the depressing notes of racism and indifference.... at my college this semester there have been several notable racist incidents that are finally giving rise to energetic student activism. Earlier in the semester, an African-American student was harassed in a elevator by a white student, who jumped up and down in the elevator, and when she asked him to stop, he called her a racist slur. A few weeks later, as an Asian-American student was walking past a group of white male students, they yelled at her and called her names. She had earlier been harassed in the same way when using the communal dorm kitchen. This past weekend, across the front doors of one of the residence halls, and on the door of the student convenience store, more racial slurs (anti-Black) were written in green and black marker. The same weekend, the gay pride flag was stolen from the flagpole (this is the third year that's happened). Tomorrow a coalition of student groups is sponsoring an "Erase the Hate" rally and march to protest against these racist actions. The school president, Peggy Williams, expressed her anger in a talk with the student government on Tuesday night. "'I just want to say that I’m so angry I could actually just spit, and you’re going hear it in my voice as I’m just ready to scream,' Williams said. 'I actually am someone who has not grown up with hate as part of my sense of sentiment, and at this point I’m ready to throw whoever these people are off the highest roof I can find on the Ithaca College campus.'" Williams also said in a notice sent to all faculty and staff that
I was outraged and deeply saddened when I heard that acts of bias have once again taken place on our campus. This past weekend, explicit and angry racist graffiti were found written in several locations around the Towers Concourse and the rainbow flag symbolizing gay pride was stolen from the “free speech” flagpole.

As I said at my all-College address on March 15, heinous actions of this type, obviously born of ignorance and intolerance, have no place in a community that values diversity. And let me assure you that we are such a community. All of us -- students, faculty, and staff members alike -- must feel free to pursue our education and our work in a nurturing and safe environment. I urge us to not let these acts tear us apart but instead to bring us together. While I truly believe that these actions are being carried out by a small fraction of our community, we are all responsible for working together to build a campus that accepts and embraces our diversity, individually and collectively.

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