Student activists march into press conference and another bias incident occurs on campus.
Faced with the sixth bias incident in five days and demands from student activists, the administration announced Wednesday through an email by President Mark McCoy that it will designate the former Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) house into a space for the Association of African American Students (AAAS).
Tuesday night, student activists halted Jenna Fischer’s Ubben Lecture in Kresge Auditorium 15 minutes into the program, unfurling a banner that said “We are not safe #DePauwKKK.” Students were responding to the previously reported bias incidents. Fischer said, “Oftentimes justice requires interruption and disruption of our scheduled lives.”
At 12 p.m. today, student activists marched into a press conference in Watson Forum in the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media (PCCM) with the message, “Meet our demands. We are not safe.” The press conference was in response to the protest the evening before. University President Mark McCoy, Ken Owen, special adviser to the president, and Alan Hill, vice president for student academic life, were present.
This morning, the student activists emailed a list of eight demands to the President requesting the changes they want on campus in response to the recent bias incidents.
Their first request is that there will be a house for black students on campus by next semester. Students’ frustration was evident and one student said “We came here to change the campus, why is it always on us?”
Today, another bias incident occurred on campus. Public Safety alerted campus in an email at 1:40pm, “‘F**** Ch*nk” was found on a toilet paper dispenser in Lucy Hall. Public Safety is currently investigating all bias incidents and has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
President McCoy’s email also said that there is a $5,000 reward for anyone providing information that will lead “to the apprehension of the despicable individuals who perpetrated these threats.”
“Our goal today was to address the next steps we as a campus are taking,” said McCoy. He also said that the students’ concerns will be met promptly, “By the end of today, there will be a list of actions.”
Students also addressed various concerns, including the bias incident involving a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority who wore what appeared to be blackface at The Fluttering Duck last Friday. The student activists also wanted to know what judicial action will be taken.
At 12:30 p.m., Kappa Alpha Theta released a statement on their Instagram taking responsibility for the student’s behavior, “We are actively addressing these issues internally and holding our members accountable for their conduct.” The sorority’s philanthropy event for Wednesday night, “Kick it for CASA,” has been canceled.
In regards to this incident, President McCoy stated during the press conference, “It’s going to take some time… we need more evidence.”
Some students skipped class on Tuesday to protest. Students who attended class said some faculty and staff did not know of the events that took place at the Jenna Fischer Ubben Lecture, or details of the biased incidents reported in the last week. President McCoy responded that last night an email was sent to all faculty and staff briefing them on the events.
Students held various signs at the press conference which included messages such as, “DePauw protects racists” and “Your silence gives consent.”
After 25 minutes, the press conference ended and students activists followed President McCoy, Hill, and Owen out of the Watson Forum. As students walked down Locust Street, other bystanders joined the march. Students marched all the way up to the Finance and Administration Building where they held up their fists in silence and said, “We will be back at 5:00 p.m.”
The demonstration planned for 5 p.m. has since been canceled because President McCoy left campus.
When asked for a comment, student activists refused to comment except by stating, “We are not safe.”
This afternoon Fischer posted a statement on her public Instagram account in response the events that took place during her Ubben Lecture Tuesday night. “I could feel the pain, sadness, and fear coming from these students,” she said. Fisher stated that she will make donations to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The Anti-Defamation League and the Trevor Project using all of the money she made through her presentation at DePauw.
*This article will continue to be updated as more information becomes available*