Hill hosts open meeting to discuss racism at Iowa State

By Katherine Klingseis, katherine.klingseis@iowastatedaily.com

Vice president of Student Affairs Tom Hill hosted an open meeting Wednesday for ISU students, staff and faculty to discuss racism at Iowa State.

Hill began the meeting by stating that it was supposed to be a “family meeting,” where everyone felt comfortable expressing themselves. He said the meeting was just part of the process in discussing racism.

The meeting came about after an initial meeting Monday to discuss two “Just Sayin’” comments referring to a “squintey” that were published in the Daily on Feb. 21.

“I want everybody to understand and know that this is just the precipitating event that started everything,” Hill said about the comments. “It’s a bigger image we’re looking at. It’s about diversity.”

Iowa State Daily General Manager Annette Forbes then talked about the steps the Daily has taken and will take to prevent something similar from happening in the future. She said, in addition to already removing the “Just Sayin’” section, the Daily also plans to go through multicultural training and to write a series about multiculturalism and acceptance and discrimination.

University Counsel Paul Tanaka then discussed the “Iowa State University Memes” Facebook page. He said the page no longer has the ISU logo as its profile picture, but the page’s name is still a trademark violation.

Tanaka said the university has complained to Facebook about the page. He said the university’s goal is to disassociate the university’s name from the page.

“It does look like this content is associated to the university and therefore damages the name of the university,” Tanaka said about the Facebook page. “It looks like [the memes] reflect the views of the university and they do not.”

Tanaka said he hopes the issue will end with the page changing its name, without having to go to court.

Michael Bugeja, director of Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, then talked about journalism ethics. At that point, he spoke about the complexity of monitoring the “Just Sayin’” section.

“If you can’t monitor it, get rid of it,” Bugeja said.

Director of International Students and Scholars and interim Dean of Students James Dorsett then spoke about the different services the International Students and Scholars Office offers.

The rest of the meeting was filled with students sharing their stories about how racism has affected their lives.

The meeting ended with Hill saying he hopes “everyone signed up for the long haul” because the discussion will continue.

“You just saw the impact of racism,” Hill said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s not pretty.”

(Posted originally on Iowastatedaily.com on Feb. 29, 2012)

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