Letter to the Times-Delphic Regarding Racism at Drake
Dear Editor: We are writing to make you aware of a recent event that occurred on Drake’s campus, in the hope that you will share our outrage at this incident and will use the forum of the Times-Delphic to encourage intentional dialogue about perceptions of race and racism on our campus. On a Saturday night in early March, six Drake students and an Iowa State student were walking along the Painted Street, returning to their various residences. As they passed Jewett Hall, a woman shouted from a third-floor window, “You dropped something back there.” As one student went to pick up the item he had dropped, the woman shouted again, “And get off our campus. We don’t want you on our campus. We don’t like…” The remainder of her comments were drowned out by the response of the students, who had begun yelling back. The woman in Jewett shut her window, and a few moments later, a first-year Drake student, who had attended a Drake event with the group earlier, arrived with her father and brother. The family had witnessed the group’s reaction to the woman’s comments, and after listening to an explanation of the incident, the father encouraged the students to ignore the woman’s comments, and the students then continued their walk home. Although no direct references were made regarding the race of the students walking on the Painted Street, all of these students and their family members are black, and the woman who shouted at them is white. The students felt that the comments carried with them an assumption that they could not be Drake students and that black people do not belong on Drake’s campus. They felt that a group of white students would never have received those comments, and they reported that this is only one of many racially charged incidents they have experienced while at Drake. We recognize that this is not an isolated incident, but part of a broader campus culture that pretends that racism no longer exists. This event surely demonstrates that we can no longer ignore the presence of racism on our campus and that members of the Drake community need to engage in more direct, cross-cultural dialogue. Part of the Drake mission is to provide an exceptional learning environment and to prepare students for responsible global citizenship. We cannot claim to have an exceptional learning environment unless we welcome and support all students; we cannot claim to engage in responsible global citizenship unless we are actively promoting intercultural interaction and understanding. With these aspects of the mission in mind, we urge you to use the Times-Delphic as a place to begin and to continue these necessary conversations. We hope you will join us in working to create a campus culture in which all members of our community are welcome.