WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Racist messages continue to be a problem at Westfield State University. Earlier this week, 22News showed you a picture of a racial slur left on the door of a student’s dorm.
On Thursday, a viewer sent us a photo through our ReportIt feature, of a note that says “black people don’t deserve to be united, you’re worth nothing.” The student said this note was found under another student’s door.
22News contacted the university, and they said the school is taking action. They held two listening sessions today as part of a “Day of Acknowledgement and Listening,” to address the recent incidents, and hear the concerns of students.
22News asked the university for permission to attend one of the listening sessions or try to talk to students, but the director of communications said that out of respect for students, they are asking the media to stay on the outskirts of campus.
The university sent 22News the following statement from the president:
Dear Campus Community:
Thank you to all who attended today’s University Assembly on the Campus Green. It was encouraging to see such a large show of support. This intentional disruption to our normal schedules underscores the severity of incidents and our determination to face head-on racism, sexism, and hate speech.
I encourage those who weren’t able to attend to click here to get a sense of the sentiment of the event. I am proud of the students, faculty, and staff who showed courage by speaking up at this large gathering. Their remarks contained similar themes of outrage and disappointment given the recent incidents, but they also contained a powerful call for unity.
I know that many of us are discouraged by the uptick in racist, sexist, and homophobic incidents that have taken place since have worked to bring our opposition to such behaviors to light. It is important for us to remember that this is how oppression works. When there is an attempt to change the order, pushback will occur and that is what these incidents represent. Know that this does not shake our resolve to change the climate on our campus. We will continue to monitor events, increase the presence of public safety, pursue investigations and build our plan for moving forward.
Clearly, there is more work that needs to be done. Leveraging the momentum of today, I invite students, faculty, and staff to continue the conversation tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 22. This “Day of Acknowledgement and Listening” will consist of two listening sessions open to students—10 a.m. to Noon and 1 to 3 p.m.—in the Owl’s Nest in Ely Hall. We encourage faculty and staff to attend the morning session, so students have their own space in the afternoon.
These conversations will be integral as the university puts together a plan of action to better educate and sensitize the full campus community on the host of issues related to inclusivity.
As a reminder, individuals with information regarding any of these incidents are encouraged to report through any of the following channels:
-Residence Hall Assistants
-Office of Non-Discrimination and Compliance, Mr. Larry Johnson, EO Officer, at 572-8485 or firstname.lastname@example.org
-Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Ms. Ashiah Richeme, director, at 572-5442 or email@example.com
-Anyone who wishes to report anonymously can do so through Public Safety via the Silent Witness link or through the Office of Non- Discrimination and Compliance.
As we have heard and seen, these events have a deep emotional impact. Know that resources for emotional and spiritual support are available through the following:
-Resident Hall Assistants
-Counseling Center by calling 572-5790 or visiting the office in the Lammers Hall Annex.
–Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center/Chaplain Resources
Ramon S. Torrecilha