In the monthly meeting of DePauw University’s faculty on Monday, President Mark McCoy and other administrators answered questions from faculty about the incident involving hate speech that occurred two weekends ago.
After eulogies for professors emeritus Roger Gustavsson and Jim Madison, McCoy addressed the faculty about the recent on campus incident involving hate speech.
“We at DePauw condemn this type of speech and we will do all in our power to eradicate it,” McCoy said. He also noted the incident and the community responses have pushed the administration to alter its communication strategy.
“It has caused us to examine how we communicate information about this to our campus community in a way that respects the victims, in no way glorifies the perpetrators, and lets people know we are aware of it,” McCoy said, “We are developing new ways to do that.”
After his address, a video created by the Biased Incident Report Team was shown. The video will be displayed to first-years during residence hall meetings Monday and Thursday nights. The video defined a hate crime and a biased incident, noting a biased incident, even though not a crime, can violate DePauw policies.
The video also addressed when biased incidents should be reported to Public Safety who will then alert the Biased Incident Report Team.
Following the video, McCoy and other administrators fielded questions and comments from 13 different faculty members.
After a question from a faculty member about expelling the guilty student, McCoy addressed the likelihood of catching the guilty party. “In an incident like this it's very difficult and very unlikely we will,” said McCoy.
In the same answer, McCoy noted the administration, while it is attempting to catch the perpetrator, is also putting equal energy into preventing a similar incident from occurring in the future.
Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies, Clarissa Peterson, asked what the punishment for the perpetrator would be if he or she was caught and found guilty in the Community Standards process. In response, McCoy noted that he or she would be subject to a deferred suspension at the minimum, but he or she could also very well face expulsion.
While many faculty members asked questions, Professor of Communications and Theatre, Tim Good made a statement about how students of color felt after the incident. “We need to clarify that the students are not upset. The students are not troubled. The students are afraid for their lives,” said Good. “It is much more serious than any of us are vocalizing.”
Vice President of Student Academic Life, Alan Hill, and Vice President of Enrollment Management, Anthony Jones, also answered questions at various times.
Despite the criticism by some faculty members, McCoy took the comments and questions in stride. “We’re looking for every possible suggestion to do this at the best of our ability and I think we got a lot of great suggestions there and I was happy to get them,” said McCoy.
Following the 45 minutes dedicated to faculty questions and statements, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Anne Harris, addressed the faculty. During her statement, Harris discussed the incident and announced the completion of the Student Success Initiative (SSI).
SSI is a software platform that lets professors communicate efficiently in hopes of assisting a student who may be struggling. “This is going to make a really big difference for students who are having trouble with a sense of belonging,” Harris said.
After Harris’s address, the meeting proceeded as usual for the final 35 minutes.
Jim Mills, a professor of geosciences and a member of the Faculty Development Committee, noted that the funding covering costs of faculty attending conferences is limited this year due to the $2.3 million revenue shortfall. “We may see money run out by mid-spring,” said Mills. “Once funding runs out, we won’t be able to fund [conferences].”