It is with a sad heart that I write to share of an abhorrent act of hate that occurred tonight. During the “Keeping It Professional” panel sponsored by the McClain Center for Diversity & CBS, a group of unknown participants spewed racist and hateful messages, both verbally and in the chat, directed at our colleagues and students. The purpose of the panel was to highlight the experiences of African Americans in the professional world, specifically our Wittenberg Black staff and faculty. The goal of the panel was to help students gain a sense of belonging and comfort from the representation we have here on campus and to learn from the experiences of our panelists. I am angry that we did not achieve that goal because of this hurtful display.
I want to acknowledge the members of our community who gave their time to serve on this panel and had to endure tonight’s incident, and thank them for their professionalism and grace: Julius Bailey, Kent Brooks, Nazarae Butler, Paris Hilliard, Noah Perry, Joi Garrett Scales, and Corrine Witherspoon. I want to acknowledge our students and others who came to learn, expand connections, and grow community, but instead were subjected to racist statements and derogatory remarks.
I am sending this message not only to acknowledge that this incident occurred, but to implore all of us to understand the true challenge before us as a community as we collectively work to eliminate discriminatory, hateful words and actions.
I condemn this act. It is not what we strive to be as community. University officials have reached out to the student and employee organizers of the panel to gather information and offer support. The Wittenberg Police Division and the Office of Student Development are investigating the incident. We will hold accountable those responsible for this act.
If you have any information about this incident, similar bias-related incidents, or incidents of discriminatory or hate speech, please contact the Wittenberg Police dispatcher immediately at 937-327-6231.
Let us come together to make this a better place for all of us.