University Senate 9-16-21 Email
The following statement was sent via email on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at 12:24, to KU Lawrence Faculty and Staff, and Active Students on the Lawrence and Edwards Campus
September 16, 2021
Dear members of the KU community,
We have had three different student protests or rallies in only one week on campus.
The first (9/12) was a protest organized to demand a vaccination mandate at KU. The second (9/13) was a rally celebrating Indigenous cultures, which occurred in response to the vandalization of the KU Common Work of Art titled Native Hosts, by Edgar Heap of Birds. The third (9/13, 9/14) was held in condemnation of sexual assault and rape culture, and triggered by a reported case of sexual assault at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. Furthermore, during this last week and a half the KU Student Body President has been confronted with ongoing racist attacks on social media.
Taken together, these events tell us that many members of our community feel unsafe: fearful about a global pandemic that rages on, racist attacks, and sexual violence.
We want to take this moment as your teachers, advisors, support and research staff, and fellow students, to tell you that you are not alone, especially if you feel unsafe, or unseen. While our return to campus brought much-needed community, the last week and a half has been both directly violent and violating to some members of our community. We know that this kind of violence can also trigger survivors, and makes us all feel less safe.
We condemn racism. We condemn sexual violence. We stand with those of you who feel unsafe.
We know that the University is still investigating the recent acts of vandalism at the Spencer Museum. We do not know the intent behind these acts, but we know their impact on the Indigenous community has been profound. Years of colonial violence make it impossible not to experience the desecration as racist. The peaceful rally Monday, which featured several of our community’s Indigenous artists and leaders, was a moment of affirmation and peace for many of us. We appreciate that the Indigenous community welcomed us all into their rally to celebrate their heritage.
We know that the recent incidents of sexual assault are still under investigation, but while we believe in due process, we also believe survivors and stand with the young woman whose college career was disrupted in this horrific way last weekend. We are all thinking of you, Jane Doe; you have a community on this campus that will be here to support you, and peers that are fearlessly seeking justice for you. Those of you with your own #metoo stories, KU has confidential resources to assist you through ourCARE Coordinator, or the Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center.
There is also another young woman who needs our community’s support. Regardless of one’s feelings about the retweet by Student Body President, Niya McAdoo, no one should ever be subjected to racist and misogynistic attacks for exercising their right to free speech. We condemn these attacks. It is through our ability to stand together, whether we agree with one another or not, whether we look the same or not, to shield one another and to keep one another safe, that we will truly measure the strength of community.
Many of us at KU have stood together in solidarity against different forms of violence this last week. These efforts come on the heels of a long and ongoing pandemic that has deprived many of us of community. Now more than ever, we must continue to denounce violence of all forms. Now more than ever, we must work together to create a community of care for all of us.
Please know that the University Senate is a space in which you can find support. If you need dialogue and community, reach out to any of us, and we will work to foster these spaces for you. We also strongly believe that as a community we need to work together to ensure that all spaces feel safe and unthreatening to all of us. We are proud of KU students for their strength in standing up for all those who may not have the strength to stand alone.
Thank you for all you do,
Ani Kokobobo, University Senate President-Elect
Hossein Saiedian, University Senate President
Remy Lequesne, Faculty Senate President
Kyle Velte, Faculty Senate President-Elect
Tim Spencer, Staff Senate President
Jessica Chilcoat, Staff Senate President-Elect
Niya McAdoo, Student Body President
Ethan Roark, Student Body Vice President
Hollie Hall, Graduate Student Body Vice President
Nate Brunsell, University Senate Executive Committee
Teri Chambers, University Senate Executive Committee
Patricia Gaston, University Senate Executive Committee
Corey Maley, University Senate Executive Committee
Nick Syrett, University Senate Executive Committee