Drake University leaders are working on an action plan to address racist incidents on campus, according to an email sent to the student body by Provost Sue Mattison April 13.
This was prompted by two incidents on campus in February. Lorissa Sowden, assistant dean of students and director of residence life at Drake, notified students in an email Feb. 18 that an unknown person had written a racist message on a bulletin board in third floor Crawford Hall. Three days later, Mattison notified students that an area in Cowles Library had also been vandalized with racist messages.
Following the incidents, Drake Student Affairs and Academic Affairs held listening sessions for students to voice their thoughts and concerns on the racist incidents. Now, according to Mattison’s email, Drake administration is creating a plan based on that feedback.
“We’ve heard your concerns and have summarized them under four overarching themes: Curriculum Enhancement, the On-Campus Student Experience, Community Building and Effective Communication,” Mattison said. “I hope you see your thoughts and comments reflected in these themes, because building an antiracist community belongs to each one of us.”
Though Mattison said the process is ongoing, two main goals have been set for fall of 2022. The first goal is to create a campus climate of inclusivity.
“A formal action plan to promote an inclusive community including initiatives, active steps, timelines and accountability will be shared with campus,” Mattison said in the email. “This plan will make clear how the institution will continue to combat racism, discrimination and prejudice. We will utilize the four themes from listening sessions as pillars to guide this plan, which will be housed on the website of the Office of Equity and Inclusion, to ensure our efforts and commitments remain visible and measurable.”
The second goal will create a plan for addressing racist incidents when they happen.
“A formal response plan for hate incidents will be developed,” Mattison said in the email. “This plan will identify the key roles and responsibilities held by Drake administrators in response to specific kinds [of] incidents, as well as clarifying communication processes Drake leadership will activate in their wake.”
According to the email, Jen Harvey, associate provost for campus equity and inclusion, will send out a newsletter later this semester with current initiatives and updates.