Dear students and colleagues,
Events of the last few days have reminded us—if we needed reminding—that we still have a lot of work to do to create the welcoming and supportive community we aspire to be at Drake University for all of our students. The racist note slipped under a student’s door followed by the robocalls last night brought home that we—every single one of us—must be ever vigilant in proclaiming and living up to our values each and every day. The forces of hate are mobilized, but they don’t control us or what happens on our campus. Rather, in the face of their attacks we are more motivated than ever in our collective determination to extend care and compassion to all of our students—particularly to our students of color.
To our students of color, I say that not only do you belong here—you are essential to the history, present, and future of this institution. By bringing your unique interests, talents, and passions to this campus, you make a powerfully positive contribution to the formation experience that is at the heart of the Drake education. Your presence makes this community more vibrant, resilient, and relevant. Thank you for choosing Drake.
Over the last several days, members of our community have joined together in a variety of settings and occasions to voice their support for students of color and state their opposition to hateful acts on this campus. One such occasion was last night in the Cowles Library Reading Room. Students, faculty, and administrators—joined by Chair of the Drake Board of Trustees David Golder—gathered to discuss what has happened on our campus and how we move forward as a community united in our commitment to equity and inclusion. I was inspired by the courage and engagement of our students for the entirety of the meeting, particularly in light of the fact that the robocall was timed to disrupt that meeting just as it started.
One action to come out of last night’s meeting was an agreement to express our universal commitment to our students of color by painting Painted Street black. A number of students are working on a plan to communicate with the organizations that currently have painted squares on the street and to carry out the painting on a yet-to-be-determined date and time. When that day comes, I encourage everyone to participate to show that we stand as one for inclusion and that we will not tolerate acts of hate against any member of our community.
I also encourage everyone to attend a rally organized by our student equity action partners tomorrow (Wednesday, Nov. 14) on Helmick Commons from noon to 1 p.m. Provost Mattison announced yesterday that classes and campus activities are canceled for that hour, so that we all—students, faculty, staff, and administrators—can come together to celebrate diversity at Drake University and demonstrate our united commitment to the University’s Statement of Principles. Because a number of you have understandably asked, we will have additional security/police officers present at this event.
In closing, I want to return to the incident of the racist note being slipped under our student’s door in Carpenter Hall. If anyone has any information about this hateful act you must share what you know. Remaining silent is to be complicit in the act itself. You can contact a resident assistant, a faculty or staff member, or an administrator, or you can make an anonymous report by accessing Ethics Point or the Drake Guardian app. I promise that if we can determine who committed this act, swift and appropriate disciplinary action will follow.