I wish George Orwell were alive today. He could have seen just how right he was on such a wide range of issues. If he were still with us, I would show him an email written by University of Kentucky (UK) President Eli Capilouto. I’ve reprinted the email below. But in between each paragraph I’ve interjected some sarcastic observations.
Each fall, we welcome to campus a new class of UK students, whose wonderful backgrounds and aspirations add to the already accomplished campus community we are striving to build each day and each year. Sometimes, however, we also experience the unwelcome presence of broader societal shortcomings that insert themselves in our midst. Each of us has to work every day--individually and collectively--to overcome the harm or prejudice that can unfortunately find expression at times in our campus community. This can happen at many levels and among many groups.
This seems to imply that not everyone is welcomed on the UK campus – particularly if they represent “broader societal shortcomings.” The statement seems a little judgmental but also a little vague. Could it mean poor people are unwelcomed? Could it mean black people are unwelcomed? Maybe it just means short people are unwelcomed.
We encourage each person in the UK community to pledge to do his/her part on a daily basis to help protect and nurture our community. Just as success has many mothers and fathers, so does our progress toward a more diverse and inclusive campus.
Whenever someone says “success has many mothers and fathers” I know I’m listening to a bunch of socialist garbage. It takes a village to raise a child, my fanny!
Toward this goal, several months ago we began the process of establishing a Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT). In the next few weeks, BIRT will publish a protocol for students, to guide you in the process of what to do and what will follow whenever you are confronted with a negative bias situation. This team includes representation from Student Affairs, Institutional Diversity, Student Government, Campus Police, Facilities Management, Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity, Human Resources, Public Relations and Undergraduate Education.
Just what exactly is a “negative bias situation”? Is it when you try to walk into the African American Center but they won’t let you because you are white? It is when you try to enter the Women’s Center but they won’t let you because you don’t have breasts? Or is it when you try to walk into the LGBT Center and see a sign that says “No breeders allowed”?
Coincident to the formation of this committee, UK Police are investigating a flyer left last week outside the door of the CARES office building on South Limestone. CARES, the Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment Services, offers a comprehensive academic support system as well as enrichment services to aid in increased retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students. Last year, the center with its Student Support Services helped more than 1,200 students.
In other words, UK is about to ask the police to get involved in the regulation of “negative bias situations” (read: free speech) because of a piece of litter found outside a door. This had better be good. So let’s find out if it contained free speech or that other kind of speech (hate speech) that isn’t free.
Simply put, the flyer contained hate speech, the kind of speech that is antithetical to the values of diversity and inclusiveness that we embrace and which should define us at the University of Kentucky.
I knew it! Now, let’s find out what kind of hate speech it was.
It is a reminder about the urgency and importance of our efforts with this committee.
Please know that we will exhaust every avenue available in trying to identify the responsible parties of such incidents. And we will pursue to the fullest possible extent these acts of hate and negative bias in the campus community. An affront to one group or one person in our community should be understood as an affront to us all.
Good to know they are conducting an investigation. I want to find out what the note says.
Meanwhile, "if you see something, say something!" Silence is acquiescence to the forces of hate and negative bias. We keep each other safer when we take action, especially by immediately reporting what we know or observe to one of the following offices:
Campus Police: (859) 257-5770
I called the police but they did not call back.
Institutional Diversity: (859) 257-9293
Institutional diversity answered the phone but they didn’t know what the note said. It was just some kind of hate speech. They sent me over to Marketing and Communications. They didn’t know what the note said, either.
Student Affairs: (859) 257-6545
Institutional Equity: (859) 257-8972
Human Resources: (859) 257-9555
No luck at these three.
Please accept responsibility for helping to keep our community safe and welcoming.
Sincerely, Eli Capilouto
Since the UK president’s name was on the email I thought I would call his office to find out who left the “hate speech” note and what it said. But no one knew. Eight days into my investigation, I got a call back from Marketing and Communications. They told me the note said something derogatory about President Obama. Through persistence, I was able to ascertain the content of the note without making the university administrator engage in actual hate speech. Here’s what the note said: “PRESIDENT OBAMA IS A NIGGER.”
It’s certainly crude and it’s certainly hateful. But, like it or not, it’s free speech. But, not according to the administration at UK. They call it hate speech that is not protected. And they are ready to mobilize nine offices at UK, including the university police, to stop it. Otherwise, it would be anarchy at UK!
At UK, the thought police can sniff out a racial slur on a piece of litter on the ground outside an administrative office. And they can mobilize an entire campus to make sure that all the litter at UK is free from “negative bias.” They only allow clean litter at UK. Now, maybe they can focus on cleaning up their athletic program.
Speaking of athletic programs, the UK thought police should relocate to Penn State. If they can find a racial slur on a piece of litter, maybe they can find a child rapist in an athletic facility. Every campus community should be “safe” and “welcoming” for vulnerable populations. I’m talking about children. Let the adults fend for themselves.