As demonstrations of solidarity with Mizzou and Yale student activists throughout the country take on local campus racism issues, universities of all sizes are witnessing reactions—both desired and feared.
At Claremont McKenna College, a Southern California liberal arts school, Dean of Students Mary Spellman issued her resignation yesterday. Spellman faced calls for resignation after, in response to a Latina student’s op-ed in the school newspaper describing her feelings of marginalization at the school, she sent an e-mail saying that she would work to serve students who “don’t fit our CMC mold.” Protests that followed included two students going on hunger strike.
In her statements, Spellman expressed hope that her resignation would help the prestigious school better confront its own issues with systemic racism:
To all who have been so supportive, please know how sorry I am if my decision disappoints you. I believe it is the best way to gain closure of a controversy that has divided the student body and disrupted the mission of this fine institution. Most important, I hope this will help enable a truly thoughtful, civil and productive discussion about the very real issues of diversity and inclusion facing Claremont McKenna, higher education and other institutions across our society.
Meanwhile, Indiana University Bloomington police are reported to be investigating a racist threat and racist comments on the anonymous message app Yik Yak. Provost Lauren Robel sent an e-mail to campus about the threat, saying that campus police didn’t think it was credible, but would be on “high alert”:
To Our Community,
The Indiana University Police Department has reported a racist threat on anonymous social media. IU utterly condemns such reprehensible threats. IUPD does not believe that the post represents a credible threat of physical violence. Nonetheless, IUPD is on high alert and students, faculty, and staff should report any suspicious behavior immediately to the police at 812-855-8174.
We completely reject this cowardly and anonymous action, intended to inject fear and divisiveness into what should be an open and honest set of conversations about the state of inclusiveness in our community.
IU Bloomington Provost
But not all believe that the threat is being handled seriously. One Ph.D. student who alerted Colorlines about the email says that the university did not respond with as much urgency as they did reports of a mugging earlier in the day. The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said:
I’m less bothered by her email than I am the lack of response. White girl gets mugged, alert all 50,000 students at 3 a.m. no matter how unlikely the threat. All non-white people get threatened, send a KCCO [Keep Calm Carry On] email?
The mugging referred to appears to be that of a reported sexual assault on a student, according to reports by the area’s NBC affiliate that detail students waking up to university text and voicemail alerts on their phones.