May 5: A “noose” is found on campus. Many at Kansas State immediately denounce it as an act of hatred and proof of systemic racism on campus.
It later becomes clear that the “noose” was a small bit of camouflage parachute cord which was tied around a tree with many other pieces of parachute cord, none of which looked like a traditional noose. The parachute cord was not placed in such a way as to draw immediate attention to it and may not have been intended to look like a noose or send any racist message. There was no suspect, no victim and no crime.
Sept. 13: White nationalist posters are found around campus. The posters are immediately taken down. Many at K-State immediately denounce them as an act of hatred and proof of systemic racism on campus.
As of yet, no evidence has appeared to prove that the individuals involved were connected to the university or even that multiple individuals were involved. While offensive, the posters fall under protected free speech. There was no suspect, no victim and no crime.
Oct. 8: A sukkah (a temporary outdoor Jewish structure) is found damaged and wrapped around a vehicle belonging to one of the individuals who helped organize the placement of the sukkah. Many at K-State immediately denounce it as an act of hatred and proof of systemic racism on campus.
It later becomes clear that the sukkah, which was built with thin material stretched over a light frame and placed in a wind tunnel between three buildings, had been picked up by severe winds during a storm and had damaged multiple vehicles. Multiple witnesses shared the same account. There was no suspect, no crime and the victims were only victims of poor structure design and bad weather.
Oct. 9: A homophobic slur is found chalked in Bosco Plaza. The slur is immediately washed away. Many at K-State immediately denounce it as an act of hatred.
While offensive, the chalk falls under protected free speech. There was no suspect, no victim and no crime.
Nov. 1: A car is found covered in racist graffiti. A police report is immediately filed, and the FBI is called in to investigate. Many at K-State immediately denounce it as an act of hatred and proof of systemic racism on campus.
It later becomes clear that the owner of the vehicle vandalized it himself in some sort of sick “prank.” The victim was a victim of his own horrible actions. The police decided not to charge him with a crime.
Nov. 14: In all five cases, K-State repeatedly denounces hatred and reaffirms its commitment to diversity and inclusion with various statements, rallies and events. Still, students demand more. They want K-State to “do something.”
So, in what seems like a public relations effort, K-State decides to suspend all classes on Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. to host a rally. This decision potentially costs students hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of classes. Maybe the rally could have been held on a Saturday instead, but that was not the case.
This decision is prompted because of events like those five mentioned, all of which were condemned by the university and many individuals on campus, three of which were reported in an incorrect or misleading way and turned out to not be crimes, and the rest, while offensive, were acts of protected free speech.
Obviously, when confronted with acts of hatred and racism, our response should be to come together in unity. However, maybe we do not have an epidemic of systemic racism and bigotry at K-State. Maybe we have an epidemic of people overreacting to events before they have all the facts.
Maybe people are so desperate to justify their own narrative of systemic racism and bigotry that they see crimes where none exist and exaggerate situations to the point where negative publicity for the university is created.
As Detective Sgt. Andrew Moeller said, “I just feel like it’s hard for people to stay objective and wait until we have all the facts to make a judgement.”
Benjamin Ristow is a sophomore in history and membership coordinator for the College Republicans at Kansas State. The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]