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Kansas State University is one of the most reputable institutions of higher learning in the United States, and racism is a vice that it should not tolerate. Its high academic standards, rigorous research, and commitment towards producing students capable of handling real-life challenges have earned it admiration within Kansas State and at the national level. The board’s recent decision to appoint you, a career military officer who has impressive military and academic background, as its president shows its commitment towards promoting research and leadership. As the president, all other stakeholders will be expecting a lot from you as you guide this great institution to the next level. Integration is one of the areas that stakeholders will expect you to address to ensure that we stay as a united family capable of addressing challenges that may arise.
Race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or any other demographical factor should not be used to divide this community. From the board members to the teaching staff, non-teaching staff, and students, there should be an environment where people consider our diversity as our strength, not a reason to divide us. However, it is essential to note that racism has been a silent problem within Kansas State University Community. It is worth noting that things have improved significantly compared to the case in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the problem is not entirely eradicated, although it appears to have been silenced. As such, the community should not ignore it as a non-issue. In this memo, the focus to offer an informative report about race and the need to embrace diversity within the university.
In mid-2016, Paige Shoemaker posted a photo of her and her friend Sadie Meier wearing a black mud mask accompanied by a racial slur: “it feels good to finally be a nigger’ (Konstantinides 1). As simple as the statement might have appeared to Shoemaker and her friend, it raised massive uproar within the institution and at a national level. It was a clear demonstration that although the campus community seems to be closely knit together, racism is still an issue that stakeholders cannot ignore. What made this tweet even more unique is that fact that it came at a time when tension was high because of theU.S. ‘U.S.’ presidential campaigns that was going on. At that time, a section of the political class was using the racial card to gain popularity among the majority of the country’ scountry’s population. It was expected that college students, being the enlightened section of the society, would help promote unity at such trying times. They have had the privilege to interact with other students from various socio-economic backgrounds and should understand the value of integration.
Unfortunately, the racial slur came from students, and it was a clear demonstration that it is an issue the society thought had been addressed (Konstantinides 1). As soon as the post was made, fellow students picked it up, complaining about the rampant cases of racism at the institution. One of the senior students made a tweet in reference to the racial slur stating that it is difficult to work with colleagues who still believe that superiority on the basis of race still exists in this country. His tweet was re-tweeted over 1500 times within a short span, a clear demonstration that the incident cannot be treated as a minor issue (Konstantinides 1). Kansas State University, an institution that has been an example to other institutions in science and research, had suddenly become a national reference of how racism is common in institution of higher learning.
Impact of the Racial Snapchat
According to a study by Passe and Fitchett, learning institutions play a critical role in fighting racism in the society (44). They bring together people from different backgrounds into a common setting where they can learn to embrace diversity (Passe and Fitchett 56). The racial slur of Shoemaker and her friend might have been a simple fun moment to them, especially at a time when the country was in an electioneering period. However, it had significant impact at the institution and to the nation at large. Within this institution, the good reputation that had taken decades of hard work and dedication of many stakeholders was destroyed in seconds. To people who have never had the opportunity to visit this institution, one thing that they are likely to remember whenever the name of the college is mentioned is this act of racism.
All the good things that had been associated with this institution before may easily be forgotten, and the focus will be on how the institution has failed to fight the vice. It is good that the management of the institution moved with speed and expelled the students as a way of reassuring the public that racism is not tolerated in this institution. However, it may not be easy to wipe the negative impression in people’ speople’s minds. Passe and Fitchett say that whenever an incident of racism occurs in a sensitive environment such as in a college, it reminds the people of the dark past when the society was defined on the basis of race (67). There is always the feeling that if racial segregation is common, then segregation on the basis of religion, gender, sexual orientation, or even political views may also be common.
Immediately after the racial slur was posted, African American students at Kansas State University rose up in arms demanding for an action to be taken. Some of them even claimed that this was not an isolated situation as they had witnessed similar cases before. It has taken decades for this institution to create an integrated community where people no longer consider race as a factor that determines one ‘sone’s superiority. However, this single incident threatened to roll back these gains. In fact, it created an almost instant mistrust between Whites and African American Students. Although many White students came out strongly to condemn the act and to show their support for a united community, a section of African American students felt that it was a deliberate act meant to demean students of color. Passe and Fitchett warn that sporadic acts of racism may create deep divisions within the community (71). It therefore created a rift among students, something that may be dangerous in a society that is keen on fighting extremism in all its forms. It is possible that this incident also impacted the teaching and non-teaching staff in one way or the other.
The incident also had an impact to the public at national level. Racism is a vice that has been fought against in this country. Squire conducted a study about the border problems between the United States and Mexico and how racism has played out in attempt to solve the problem (20). As Squire says, this vice benefits no one (21). It only creates animosity that may sometimes turn violent. The fact that this incident took place at an institution of higher learning that is highly cherished in the American society opens the wounds that that have been healing. It brings back the memories where the minorities were subjected to condition that made them suffer in their own country. Learning institutions all over the country had to redefine their policies regarding the fight against racism as the debate raged on nationally. It was a reminder to everyone that more still need to be done at our learning institutions to ensure that racism is eliminated.
Universities Strategies towards Fighting Racism
It is the responsibility of the administrators at institutions of higher learning to create an environment that embraces racial diversity (Squire 22). As the president of Kansas State University, I believe that you have the power to transform this society and to uproot racism and all other forms of intolerance based on various demographical factors. As a military officer and a leader who has had the privilege to work with people from diverse backgrounds, you have a wealth of experience that this community needs in promoting integration. Putting in place punitive measures to deter students and staff members from engaging in acts of racism already exists in this institution as witnessed when Shoemaker was expelled from this institution. However, what is needed more than anything is creation of a culture of tolerance and appreciation of our diversity. Students and staff should embrace a culture where diversity is considered a strength that can help us overcome various challenges.
It is necessary to create an environment where stakeholders will not be deterred from racial slurs by the fear of punishment. Instead, they should develop personal convictions that the campus community can achieve better success if integration is embraced than when racism is practiced. A study by As Patrias and Savage suggest focused on the power of unions and the need for people to work as a unit to fight common problem (48). The scholars say that a student should see strength in other students from other demographical backgrounds and work closely with them as a way of getting more empowered. With your unparalleled wealth of knowledge and experience, you can fine tune the culture at this institution to be in line with the vision and objectives that were set by its founders in a way that people from different races will develop a sense of belonging. The stakeholders should not ignore this issue thinking that it no longer exists or even wish it away. Instead, they need to work together to combat the vice and make all students and staff feel equally respected. You may need to have broad classification of stakeholders who will need to play different roles in fighting racism in this college.
Role of the Administration
The school ‘sschool’s administration has a major role to play in ensuring that culture of tolerance and respect for everyone is maintained. When students are admitted into this institution, the management may have little knowledge about their background and the kind of exposure they have had in reference to racism. However, it is the responsibility of the administration to ensure that students are able to embrace their colleagues from varying socio-economic or even political backgrounds. The administration can do this in various ways. The first step will be to come up with policy guidelines for students, teaching and non-teaching staffs. For students, it should come in a form of rules and regulations where acts that directly or indirectly bring out racism are prohibited. Students should be made aware that the institution does not tolerate acts of intolerance (Yellin 78).
Yellin conducted a comprehensive research on how racism affects the working environment in the United States (78). During their orientation, new students should be reminded that they have a role to play in creating a closely knit society where all stakeholders are valued irrespective of their demographical background. When incidents arise where a student’ sstudent’s action demonstrates racial intolerance, punitive measures should be taken. Stern action such as suspension or even expulsion may be necessary. Yellin argues that the management should always be keen on punishing acts of racism in an organizational setting (82). The management should also ensure that students can interact closely in their places of residence instead of creating exclusive zones for people of specific race. To the staff, the management should come up with policy programs that define their roles and responsibility in promoting integration in the college. The teaching staff should be given special attention because of their regular interaction with the students. They should be reminded of their role in creating a community that is tolerant to diversity (Yellin 84). During their lessons, they need to remind students that in this society we can achieve a success if we work as teams. When forming discussion groups, teachers should ensure that each group is as diversified as it possibly can in terms of race, gender, religion or any other relevant factor.
Role of the Teaching and Non-teaching Staff
The teaching and non teaching staffs have a major role to play in promoting unity among the student community. At this stage of development, students tend to embrace specific ideologies based on what their teachers expose them to (Gregg 23). The study by Greg talked about extremism related to religious affiliations. When teachers justify racism and intolerance towards people who are different in terms of political views, religion, race, or sexual orientation, then students will become intolerant towards their colleagues who are different from them. However, when teachers constantly come up with proper justification why our society needs integration, then racism will be viewed by student as a social evil that should be fought at all costs. Gregg suggests that teachers can also help students who grew up knowing that people from specific background posses specific characteristics (23).
From instance, stereotypes such as African American men are always violent and more likely to be drug addicts should be fought by the teachers by constantly advising students appropriately. The non-teaching staff also has a role to play in creating a culture of racial tolerance in this institution. Workers who regularly interact with students should avoid using word or acting in ways that can be construed to mean that a section of the society is superior to the other. Acts of favoritism, especially in the line of race, should not be witnessed among the non-teaching staff when serving the students. They should demonstrate that in this society everyone is equal and deserving. The staff should also embrace tolerance amongst themselves. They must remember at all times that they are role models to the students. Their actions directly or indirectly influence students in this institution.
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Role of the Student Community
As the president of this college, it is important that you remind students that they also have a major role to play in creating an integrated society. Students must understand that embracing college groups and societies founded along the racial lines roll back the success that has been achieved in fighting racism. Groups such as Black Lives Matter or White Lives Matter might have been developed by people who wanted to address a social evil that is directed against a section of the society. However, students should avoid them at campus level because it only brews animosity towards other groups. Members of Black Lives Matter will view Whites with suspicion, keen on reading any malice in their statements and actions even when it is not intended, and vice versa. A study by Passe and Fitchett looked at the consequences of having fragmented student body on the basis of race or religion. Their study shows that such groups create animosity among students who always feel they deserve the best or they are being oppressed based on their race. Instead of joining such groups, students should become members of groups that bring together students irrespective of their backgrounds. Such groups as engineering students association and business students association are more development oriented than ethnic or racial based groups.
Role of the Parents
The parents should also be part of this community as we strive to promote a culture of tolerance and integration. It is a fact that as the president of this college you may not have time to interact closely with parents at a personal level. However, that should not stop you from reaching out to the parents through the seminars you attend and through both the social and mass media. Parents need to be reminded that they have a role to play in raising children who understand the American diversity. At tender age, they should help their children understand why people have different skin pigments, practice different religion, and belong to different gender. They should grow up knowing that the diversity is what makes America unique and very great. Parents should be reminded that their actions and words have profound impact on the culture that their children will embrace. If they show acts of intolerance and disrespect towards people of a given race or religion, then it is very likely that their children may embrace the same. These parents must be made to know that the world is changing and people unable to embrace diversity may not be very successful in life.
Kansas State University Community, just like any other community, can only remain united and focused towards a common goal if the stakeholders embrace diversity. Racism should not be tolerated. Above all, measures should be put in place to prevent acts of racism instead of reacting after an occurrence. It should be clear to all the stakeholders that the institution does not tolerate racism in all its forms.
Gregg, Heather. The Path to Salvation: Religious Violence from the Crusades to Jihad. Cengage, 2014.
Konstantinides, Anneta. “”Kansas State student is kicked out of school after sending Snapchat wearing black clay mask with caption Feels good to finally be a n****r.”” Daily Mail, Web.
Passe, Jeff, and Paul G. Fitchett. The Status of Social Studies: Views from the Field. Wiley, 2013.
Patrias, Carmela, and Larry Savage. Union Power: Solidarity and Struggle in Niagara. AU Press, 2012.
Squire, Vicki. Post/humanitarian Border Politics between Mexico and the Us: People, Places, Things. Springer, 2015.
Yellin, Eric. Racism in the Nation’ sNation’s Service: Government Workers and the Color Line in Woodrow Wilson’s Wilson’s America. The University of North Carolina Press, 2013.