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COURTESY OF KAI WARD - Lewis & Clark College students marched through the Southwest Portland campus Wednesday to protest racially charged Yik Yak posts that popped up in the past couple of days. Hundreds of student rallied on campus Nov. 18.Several hundred Lewis & Clark College students chanted, marched through lecture halls and sat in a plaza between buildings Wednesday to protest racially charged social media posts.


Students say they are angry about posts with the tag #bringbackslavery, that popped up in the past couple of days on Yik Yak, a smartphone app that people can use to post comments anonymously on just about anything.

College officials told students Tuesday that the school’s Bias Assessment Response Team had alerted Portland police about the posts and was “actively working on this highly troubling incident.”

In an email sent to students, Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez said the college was working to ensure the safety for all students. “Hate has no place at Lewis & Clark,” Gonzalez wrote. “We must work together to ensure an inclusive experience for all members of our community and maintain a campus where all are free to learn in a safe and welcoming environment.”

A rally called by students to support the Black Lives Matter movement filled a plaza outside J.R. Howard Hall near the Watzek Library beginning shortly after 8 a.m. Nov. 18. Students asked that the college take the issue of campus racism more seriously, provide education and forums focusing on ending racism and fighting back against the anonymous racially charged postings.

A petition also was circulated among the students to ban Yik Yak on the Lewis & Clark campus. Students were also encouraged to report the offending posts to Portland police and the Multnomah County district attorney’s office.

Portland police detectives looked into the Yik Yak posts Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 17, but concluded that they did not violate Oregon law and that “nothing in the posts represented an immediate threat to students or staff at the college,” according to Portland Police Bureau officials.

“The students who are protesting are definitely riled up,” said sophomore Kai Ward from Manhattan who took part in Wednesday’s gathering. “They have valid reasons to be upset.”

COURTESY OF KAI WARD - Lewis & Clark students sat for hours outside J.R. Howard Hall and the Watzek Library on campus to protest racial Yik Yak posts that popped up shortly after the college's annual symposium on race and ethnic studies.

Warren symposium targeted

The offending Yik Yak posts popped a couple days up after the college’s 12th annual Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies (Nov. 11 to 13). The symposium is named for popular Lewis & Clark associate dean Ray Warren, who died in 2004.

One of the offending Yik Yak posts that popped up at the Lewis & Clark College campus this week.Racially charged issues have surfaced around the annual symposium in the past, angering students and prompting protests. In 2013, black students were upset after racial epithets were written on white boards in residence halls and posted online. Last year, similar Yik Yak anonymous posts prompted similar protests at the college’s Law School.

“It’s becomes a trend that happens every year around this time, and people are tired of it,” Ward said. “That’s why there’s so much frustration.”

Nearly two dozen faculty and staff members signed a Nov. 17 email sent by Janet Steverson, chairwoman of the college’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, blasting the Yik Yak posts and telling students that “the posts violate the core values of the L&C community.”

“We are sending a special message of care and support to our black community members because they were the ones targeted in the recent Yik Yak posts,” Steverson wrote.

Similar protests on the University of Missouri campus and at Portland State University have highlighted racial tensions brought to the forefront by the national Black Lives Matter movement.

Several Lewis & Clark professors and staff members joined the students, spoke to the crowd and listened to rally speakers.


HERE IS THE EMAIL FROM THE COLLEGE'S COMMITTEE ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION:

Dear Lewis & Clark Community,

Hate speech like that posted on Yik Yak yesterday has no place on our campus, nor in the larger world. In fact, the posts violate the core values of the L&C community and, more specifically, violate the Discrimination, Harassment, and Hate or Bias-Motivated Conduct Policy.

Please know that we care about and support all of our community members. We are sending a special message of care and support to our black community members because they were the ones targeted in the recent Yik Yak posts.

We firmly believe that we are in this together and can help and support each other during difficult times. The members of the institution-wide Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) are open to conversations about these Yik Yak posts or any other incidents that make members of our community feel unsafe and/or unwelcome.

We know that there are fora and other events planned as immediate responses to the Yik Yak incident. However, the CDI’s job is to work on long term solutions to the underlying issues that the Yik Yak posts raise. To that end, in addition to the work that the CDI has done and will continue to do, as outlined in the November 16 letter from President Glassner and me, the CDI is planning an open forum in January for all three campuses to share updates on the CDI’s work to date, our plans going forward, and to solicit community input.

If anyone wants additional information about the Yik Yak incidents or about the CDI, please contact one of the members below.

In solidarity,

Janet Steverson, Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

Members of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion are as follows:

Jane Atkinson, vice president and provost, ex-officio

Nathan Baptiste, director of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement, CAS

Janet Bixby, associate dean, graduate school

Cathy Busha, associate dean of student engagement, CAS

Michael Coiner, administrative specialist, CAS

Isaac Dixon, associate vice president and director of human resources

Mark Duntley, dean of the chapel

Se-ah-dom Edmo, coordinator of the Indigenous Ways of Knowing Program

David Ellis, vice president, secretary and general counsel, ex-officio

Linda Eguiluz-Gonzalez, student, graduate school

Erik Fast, director of corporate foundation relations

Mark Figueroa, associate provost for institutional research and planning, CAS

Marisol Garcia, assistant professor of counseling psychology, graduate school

Anna Gonzalez, dean of students, CAS

JB Kim, assistant dean for diversity and academic resources, law school

Stacey Kim, director of marketing and communications

Gabriela Rodriguez, student, CAS

Laura Shier, Director of Academic English Studies/Instructor, CAS

Liz Stanhope, associate professor of mathematical sciences, CAS

Yueping Zhang, associate professor of psychology, CAS


HERE IS THE EMAIL FROM THE COLLEGE'S DEAN OF STUDENTS:

Dear Lewis & Clark Community,

As you may be aware, this afternoon there were multiple racist posts made on Yik Yak. The Bias Assessment Response Team is actively working on this highly troubling incident. The Portland Police have been informed.

We are working closely with the Black Student Union and thank those students for their leadership during these troubling times. We are working to ensure safety and to provide paths for support for all community members.

Hate has no place at Lewis & Clark. We must work together to ensure an inclusive experience for all members of our community and maintain a campus where all are free to learn in a safe and welcoming environment.

Anyone with additional information about the Yik Yak postings, or with concerns about their personal well-being, should contact Campus Safety at 503-768-7855. Students may also contact their area director, the counseling center (503-265-7804), or the Dean of Students (503-768-7110) for additional support.

President Glassner is in Washington, D.C., on college business but has been in close communication with me about this troubling incident and sends his support to and concern for our students and community.

Sincerely,

Anna Gonzalez, Dean of Students

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