President Gaudino addresses concerns of KKK and hate speech
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Around 4:30 p.m. on Oct.4, CWU President James Gaudino released a public statement to faculty, staff and students in response to reported hate speech and KKK pamphlets found throughout the Ellensburg community.
The statement came nearly a week after the Yakima Herald Republic initially reported on Wednesday, Sept. 28 that three Ellensburg residents discovered KKK pamphlets throughout town.
Prior to the official statement from Gaudino, CWU tweeted on Saturday, Oct. 1, that they were “devastated to learn Ellensburg experienced random delivery of KKK fliers on lawns and driveways.”
Gaudino addressed the fears and concerns of the community in his statement, saying “these actions speak to what is low in our society” and that he does not believe that they represent CWU.
Below is the full statement:
October 4, 2016
To: The CWU Community
From: President James L Gaudino
Re: Community Inclusiveness and Safety
CWU welcomes its 125th year having overcome many challenges and having adapted to many new ideas. Unfortunately, an old idea and an old challenge still confront us: the compulsion of some to reject and to fear people unlike themselves. There can be no more important challenge than working to defeat this irrational, immoral, and primitive aspect of our society.
We have seen political candidates leverage this impulse, relying on fear to garner support. We have heard it in racial slurs, thrown like trash from truck windows. And we have seen it in the cowardly, clandestine notes of the Klan, hurled in the night onto the doorsteps of our neighbors.
These actions speak to what is low in our society. I do not believe they represent us.
The Ellensburg Police Department and the Daily Record were among the first to speak out and label hateful speech as abhorrent and disgraceful. We must join them in shining a light on the darkness these acts bring into our community. We must name it when we see it and demand accountability for actions that are designed to exclude or marginalize members of our community.
Central Washington University is a national leader in welcoming people from all walks of life and from all parts of the world. Recently, however, some people of color have shared with me that they feel less safe in our community today than they did a few months ago. That saddens and shames me greatly.
What are we to tell our students and employees about their safety in Ellensburg? Experts, both nation and local, advise that the recent activities of the KKK do not pose a new or heightened threat of physical violence. They suggest that the recent acts of disrespect and intimidation are the work of a few, emboldened by the downward slide in public rhetoric.
We must not, however, invalidate the fears of members of our community. We cannot ignore their feelings of insecurity. Both are real and understandable.
We must continually strive to build and maintain a welcoming community, because doing so creates the foundation of the academic freedom we value. That freedom demands that all feel secure enough to explore and to express their ideas and identities.
I will be meeting with student groups to personally deliver this message. I hope you will join me in raising our collective voice against hate.