South Dakota State University is responding to a racial slur aimed at Native American Students. It happened late last week and since then, university leadership has banded together and condemned the action.
“I think an incident like this is always shocking. And, frankly, it should be. I think if we were so numbed that it wasn't, I'd be much more concerned,” SDSU director of diversity Jaime Nola-Andrino said.
Early Friday morning, someone wrote hurtful words in a bathroom at SDSU's Brown Hall. The phrase called Native American students shocking names and told them to “Go back to the Rez.”
“It's absolutely not our values. It is not reflective of who we are, where we want to be, what a welcoming place we work toward being and obviously we'll continue working toward being, Nolan-Andrino said.
Nolan-Andrino says instead of bury the issue, the university is using it to further a conversation about campus diversity.
“A lot of time people get the feeling that young people are apathetic, aren't going to stand up to racism or bigotry,” SDSU Student Senator Jameson Goetz said.
Students campus-wide have stood up too. Student government joined administrators denouncing the actions.
“People, not only administrators, but also students, have reached out to those affected by this. I'm hoping they can still feel welcomed, that they are truly valued,” Student Association Vice President Wyatt DeJong said.
The graffiti didn't name names, but it came close, referring to individual student room numbers.
University officials say they've allowed any student feeling unsafe a chance to change rooms. And so far none have.
There have not been any other messages found this week.
“We're all going through the exact same thing. We're all staying up all night, worrying about grades, asking, 'What are we going to do; what is our future going to bring?'” Goetz said.