Community responds to hate incident

Martin Donovan, Staff Writer

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In the wake of the hate incident on March 11 at Carlson Stadium, the Luther College community mobilized to condemn bigotry and racism. Luther’s administration as well as numerous departments, student organizations, and individual community members have publicly denounced the hate incident.

Vice President of Communications and Marketing Aimee Viniard-Weideman and Interim Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion Lisa Scott highlighted the administration’s sense of urgency to respond to the hate incident.

“Once we understood what had occurred, it was decided that we would call the community to gather on the football field Sunday evening to reclaim it as Luther’s  community space,” Viniard-Weideman and Scott said.

Additionally, the administration utilized three listening sessions on March 13 and 15 to compile students concerns and suggestions to help shape Luther’s future actions. Luther will respond to these concerns at a community meeting on Monday, April 16.

Furthermore, Luther held a faculty workshop on social justice pedagogy on April 5 and will hold an anti-racism workshop on May 5. Luther was also recently approved to work with the Sustained Dialogue Institute during the next academic year, which is a nonprofit organization based out of D.C. that primarily focuses on easing tensions and community development through dialogue.

Besides administrative actions, student organizations released statements denouncing the hate incident. Student Senate President Jack Benson (‘18) said it was important for senate to publicly condemn the hate incident in a timely manner.

“As representatives for the students, we wanted to make it indiscriminately clear that we are opposed to the presence of hatred in all of its forms, and that this would not be an incident soon forgotten or ignored,” Benson said. “It was discerned that the sooner we reply the better, in order to show our immediate engagement.”

Student Senate is also collaborating with other departments and the administration to establish future solutions.

“Student Senate is currently working with several departments and administration to soon host an event dubbed ‘Peace in Peace’ in the Peace Dining Hall in order to once again gather our community [and] to continue laying the groundwork towards creating a lasting action plan,” Benson said. “This will also be working off of the current plan that is being established by the Luther administration as they seek to have more feedback and insight from our student community.”

Hannah Gross (‘20) said that the social work department decided to condemn the hate incident because of the department focus on social issues and equity as well as representing students who were directly targeted by the hate symbols.

“As a part of social work, a lot of work is in social justice and equality, [so] it was really important that we made a statement,” Gross said. “We have students that are of minority groups, so it was really important for them to be heard and their voices to be heard.”

The social work department’s statement went beyond condemning the hate symbols at Carlson Stadium by emphasizing the importance of understanding people’s implicit biases.

“We are reminded to examine our own biases and assumptions in order to to build meaningful relationships with one another, to learn from those who are different from ourselves, and to commit to ongoing dialogue that promotes equity and inclusion of all people,” the statement said.

According to Scott, continual action will contribute to institutional change at Luther.

“The work of creating an inclusive and welcoming community belongs to all of us. It is rarely created on the macro level with one big push but rather in the sustained day-to-day interactions of its people,” Scott said.

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