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Guest Opinion

BY GUEST OPINION | DECEMBER 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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To Whom It May Concern,

I am emailing you in regards of the constant acts of hate and discrimination that are happening at your university. More importantly, this letter is a statement of dismay for the neglect and lack of concern for issues facing University of Iowa students of color daily. Please notice that I say “your university” with great intention, as I cannot and do not feel comfortable with claiming UI as my own. How can I encourage my friends and family members who look like me to attend this university, if I do not feel safe and welcome?

People of color endure unruly and barbaric behavior from our peers and instructors at the University of Iowa that continually go unnoticed. Students do not report these incidents because we do not believe our voice matters on this campus. This is a university in which all walks of life are supposed to be embraced by a welcoming community with cohesiveness and in which diversity is supposed to be the foundation of a strong learning environment. However, these factors do not exist, especially for students of color. A lack of concern from the UI administration is partially to blame, and it has failed at increasing inclusivity and diversity on this campus.

As a student, my peers have also voiced that it is not plausible for them to call the UI a home away from home. Constantly, they are being pushed away by discriminatory gestures and remarks, which seem to be the underlying culture of university. As a result, we are forced to walk on eggshells among our peers and professors. As a student employee, students have expressed to me their feelings of isolation and detachment. Consequently, they become confined to their living facilities and steer away from engaging in extracurricular activities at your university in fear of being unwelcomed on the basis of their skin color. This is because administrators and leaders of this university have not taken the initiative to create change and build a welcoming community for all individuals.

It is not acceptable for these trends of distasteful behavior to continue to flourish without acknowledgement or concern for the well-being of all students. I am uncomfortable, students of color are uncomfortable. We are among a community of people who do not accept diversity and are not interested in creating a more inclusive UI. What do you plan to do about this?

Therefore, the email that was recently sent: UI Statement on Pentacrest Art Display, should not be your only expression of concern about racism at the university. It is important that UI works to be proactive instead of reactive pertaining to issues such as this. If this university is so passionate about ensuring that students are able to encounter a “diverse community with no tolerance of racism” then please, back these statements up with action. Make it a priority to make sure that UI students of color feel like they are valued and their experience matters. Do not ignore us and put our concerns and issues on the back burner. We should be a priority. Just as there is great concern about sexual misconduct, there should be great concern about racism and discrimination on this campus, as they are both destroying the community at the UI.

If a change does not occur, there will continue to be a division of your community.

Sincerely,
Gabrielle Miller


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