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K-State ‘cannot violate the law,’ releases action steps to combat racism on campus

(KWCH)
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 12:24 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The president of Kansas State University released new action steps the institution plans to take in response to racial tension on campus following the #BlackAtKState movement and a tweet by a student making light of the death of George Floyd.

The latter caught national attention and led several people to call for the student to be expelled. Some of the university’s football players even said the wouldn’t play this season if the school didn’t take action. Although the student said Twitter forced him to take down the tweet, others came to his defense and said his words were protected by his First Amendment rights.

In a letter to the K-State Community on Wednesday, President Richard B. Myers said the university “cannot violate the law” but will “use these incidents as a catalyst to more crisply define the way we will work to stop hate at K-State and combat racism on our campuses.”

Myers said the university has committed to creating a more inclusive K-State and following action steps:

Student-Related Action Steps:

1. Create a Student Ombudsperson Office in collaboration between the Provost, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and Vice President for Student Life to advocate for students experiencing a campus climate concern.

2. Establish a work group to analyze and make recommendations regarding all university policies, including discrimination and harassment policies and the Student Code of Conduct, with the goal of identifying and addressing institutional bias and barriers through an anti-racist lens.

3. Increase recruitment efforts with the aim of raising enrollment of students of color to meet or exceed the state of Kansas demographics.

4. Increase efforts to raise retention and graduation rates of students of color with annual measurable goals.

5. Increase the amount of need-based scholarships with annual measurable goals. Additionally, this next fiscal year’s voluntary salary reductions from administrative leaders will go directly towards need-based scholarships for students.

6. Improve the process for receiving complaints of discrimination.

7. Develop a policy on social media usage for students that balances our institutional values and free speech. Currently one exists for faculty and staff.

8. Initiate a “Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation” campaign through Student Life modeled after the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ program to develop and track progress on co-curricular equity initiatives.

Faculty-Staff Related Action Steps:

9. Increase hiring and retention efforts for faculty and staff of color with the goal of meeting or exceeding relevant local, state, and national labor market demographics.

10. Work with the colleges and faculty to adopt the U.S. multicultural overlay as a universitywide model.

11. Develop and offer mandatory cultural competency workshops for faculty and staff.

Myers said a publicly available dashboard for measuring progress and identifying accountable university leaders for each of the above action steps will be developed.

“These commitments are an initial response and further action steps will be encouraged to be added by additional university units and through our shared governance process,” said the president. “We will ensure students, faculty and staff of color are at the table along with other underrepresented groups as the above action steps move forward.”

Myers said work on the plan will begin immediately and progress will be reported monthly to the university community.”

Copyright 2020 KWCH. All rights reserved.

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