Community rallies to combat graffiti
Recent bias−motivated incidents at St. Cloud State University and how we have dealt with them have
attracted analysis, criticism and praise.
Not a small amount of the feedback has been positive, with expressions of thanks from students who say they
feel safer because we are confronting symbols of hate with a show of unity and support. Some believe we are
making too much of these behaviors or, worse, that we are sending out mixed messages about our campus
As the president of a campus that has a tradition of encouraging both diversity and diversity of ideas, I do not
take offense at criticism. But ours is not a racist campus, nor have I ever characterized it as such.
We apparently have a small number of people perhaps students who are behaving badly and engaging in
behavior that is immature and silly, heinous and hateful, or somewhere in between. But the vast majority of
our 16,900 students and our faculty and staff are decent people who come here to work or study hard and treat
each other with respect. They do what people on any campus do go to class, socialize, teach and learn.
In recent weeks we have come together as a campus community out of concern about this issue and in support
of the students and others who have felt threatened or intimidated by these acts. As a diverse community 18
percent of our faculty and 7.6 percent of our students are non−international persons of color and more than a
thousand students are from other countries we have created opportunities for education and dialogue in our
community about issues that matter to us all.
I might add, for the benefit of those who question how this is affecting our recruitment of new students, the
number of applications and new entering students has increased in all categories including students of color.
And despite the critics who would deter students of color from coming to this community, they do keep
coming and getting the preparation they need to take their rightful places as productive citizens in our
increasingly diverse community, state and nation.
Out in the open
As a community, in consultation with faculty, staff and student leaders, we have chosen to express our
responses to these challenges openly and just as in−your−face as the people who have scrawled swastikas on
walls where students reside and engage in activities. We've posted safety alerts and are working closely with
St. Cloud police in investigating what in some cases has been criminal activity.
For that we have drawn attention to our campus some of it unpleasant. We will continue to do so because,
while every campus and every community grapples with these same issues, we choose to bring them out into
the open and unite against the hate they represent.