MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The University of St. Thomas is cancelling classes Wednesday afternoon so that all students, faculty and staff can attend a campus-wide discussion following a recent incident where a black student found racist graffiti on his dorm room door.
The meeting is slated to be held at 1 p.m. at the St. Paul university’s field house at the Anderson Athletic Recreation Center. The first part of the forum will be an hour-long discussion on racial tensions at the university. After that, staff and faculty will be offered education training.
Wednesday’s forum comes following an incident earlier this month where freshman Kevyn Perkins found the words “N—— go back” written on his dorm room door.
“I was so mad that I felt like transferring that same day,” Perkins told The Pioneer Press, adding that there had been other incidents where he didn’t feel welcome at St. Thomas.
In response to the Oct. 19 graffiti incident, more than 1,000 St. Thomas students held a sit-in on campus last Thursday. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter attended, telling Perkins: “This whole community is around you, and it’s not just St. Thomas. It’s an important moment for our city.”
Julie Sullivan, the university’s president, was also at the sit-in, offering support. Last week, she wrote an email to all students and staff, saying that past efforts to combat racism on campus had fallen short and more needs to be done.
In the email, she announced a list of long-term and short-term strategies, one of which was Wednesday’s campuswide meeting.
“The event will be a visible kickoff to our entire university’s commitment to action and is a critical step in boldly addressing systemic racism and hate in our community,” Sullivan wrote.
Other strategies to combat racism on campus include classroom conversations, campuswide anti-bias training, anti-racism curriculum development, and the recruitment of more students and faculty of color.