Students at the University of Iowa gathered Thursday afternoon commemorating the hashtag banner “#DoesUIowaLoveMe” and to relate stories of how the university doesn’t make them feel “welcome.”
Approximately 100 students and staff were in attendance, although some 600 had expressed interest in attending via the event’s Facebook page.
According to The Daily Iowan, the hashtag campaign began Monday evening and now has over 1,000 tweets and Instagram posts which detail concerns “ranging from racial discrimination to issues revolving around xenophobia, homophobia, and white privilege.”
A gay speaker at the rally told of how his straight roommate wanted to move out. He said, “If you were straight and I was the gay one, you would understand.” Another was rather vague, saying he thinks UI is a “diverse community,” but that diversity “is not being recognized or advocated for.”
A Native American student claimed he was told he “couldn’t go” to U. Iowa because he is Native. He doesn’t say just who told him this.
On Twitter under the #DoesUIowaLoveMe hashtag, some of the anecdotes are rather eye-roll-inducing. One tweet says “Border patrol @ the job fair? I’m not racist but…” Another believes making a popular contemporary political statement is “hateful” and “hurtful” (she needs a quick refresher on constitutional rights at public institutions):
#DoesUIowaloveme no, there are ways to express opinions without being hateful and hurtful. By approving this to be displayed with the notion of “freedom of speech”, the university neglected the same minorities they use 2 pursue their diversity agenda on every poster around campus pic.twitter.com/OXveCQIQkb
— 🖤Hewot🖤 (@JustHewot) February 26, 2019
More than a dozen students shared their stories via megaphone during Thursday’s event. As the rally wrapped up and participants hugged and wiped away tears, many said they hope the momentum of #DoesUIowaLoveMe doesn’t slow down.
UI Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers, who was present at the event, shared a message with the university community on Thursday morning. She said she wants to “thank all of the brave people who shared their experiences and were courageous enough to address some difficult topics.”
“As a woman of color, a first-generation college graduate, and a leader at this institution I cannot be silent on issues of inclusion, equity, health, safety, and well-being,” she said in the message. “I want to be clear when I say to you that this campus believes you and stands with you. The many staff, faculty, and students here at the University of Iowa hear your stories and have read your posts on social media so we can work together to support you.”
Shivers said she is continuing to work on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan that will be shared with the UI on April 4.
Perhaps Shivers should consider calling it the “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Loving Action Plan.”