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Drake U. students to paint campus street all black in solidarity against racist incidents

The president of Iowa’s Drake University has endorsed a plan to paint a university street all black in response to recent racist incidents on his campus.

According to The Times-Delphic, the latest incidents came via “hate-filled” white supremacist robo-calls which utilized a text-to-speech software for anonymity. The student paper identifies the group responsible as the Idaho-based Road to Power organization.

An “emotionally charged” meeting took place Monday evening at the school’s Cowles Library at which Drake president Marty Martin approved students’ request to turn Painted Street all black — using the Twitter hashtag #paintitblack — in response. The #paintitblack movement originally had begun after a student allegedly discovered a note “threaten[ing] racial violence” that had been slipped under his dorm room door.

This, “combined with many alleged reported and unreported harassment and microaggressions against students of color,” the Times-Delphic reports, “led student activists to flood social media with #thisisdrake posts sharing their stories.”

The plan to cover Painted Street with black paint was unanimously approved by the Drake student senate.

Activists say the paint movement is not just a response to the note and robo-calls, but “to wider problems with Drake’s campus climate such as many incidents students felt were not taken as seriously by white students, faculty and administration.”

From the story:

[Martin] said Painted Street represents a space of unity between diverse student organizations, and that he originally feared that painting over it would look more like division than unity. But he said that he strongly supports painting over Painted Street to show solidarity with the oppressed and present a unified front against hate.

“I would ask that we get as many of our students as we can out there on Painted Street, armed with a paintbrush, to take their own opportunity to put black over that space,” Martin said. “It is not a statement of division. It is a statement of ‘we are all in this together.’ Every single one of us belong here. Every single one of you are valued members of this community and are essential to it.” …

After the immediate issue of Painted Street resolved, a larger discussion could take place, including topics like the hiring of faculty of color and protocol with offensive behavior made by tenured faculty. Administration and faculty said they were interested in continuing this long-term discussion.

In a show of support from their end, the Times-Delphic colored its website all black and stated in a brief editorial

[…] as a publication, [the Times-Delphic] stands against racism, acts of bigotry and any form of hatred or violence towards students of Drake University. We stand with our principles to accurately report on the human experience of students at Drake. We will continue to strive in encouraging various voices to be heard. Progress and transformative change comes from brave, intelligent people speaking up against injustice.

Read the full article.

MORE: Drake U. prof asks: Are white parents raising racist kids?

MORE: Drake U. investigates Post-It note ‘defacement’

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