Students awoke to find white supremacist flyers posted around campus, followed the next day by a threatening Facebook message in response to a planned student protest against then President-Elect Donald Trump. The Facebook threat came from someone off-campus. Those responsible for the anonymous posters were still unknown as of this writing.
This turn of events understandably refocused a “Conversation with the President,” already scheduled that same week. President Scott Bierman used his address to publicly denounce the actions of those who distributed the posters and to assure the community that their safety was of the utmost importance. Nearly 200 faculty members, staff, and students gathered in Moore Lounge to hear him speak.
Bierman used the time to reorient the audience to the college’s mission statement, its commitment to being an anti-racist college, and its Statement of Student Culture, which was created by students and emphasizes the importance of respect and civility. Bierman announced the launch of a new program inspired by sixth College President Miller Upton in the 1960s, which modeled civil dialogue around fraught topics. Some may recall President Upton and then-Provost William Kolb engaging in these discussions during similarly turbulent times.
Four forums are being planned for the 2017-18 academic year that will invite faculty, staff, students, and community members with divergent perspectives to discuss topics of pressing concern.