K-State’s plans for addressing racism, bigotry coming this week, Myers says

President Richard Myers delivers the State of the University Address at the K-State Alumni Center on Sept. 27, 2019. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

In a Monday K-State Today Special Issue, President Richard Myers once again addressed recent issues concerning racism at Kansas State.

Myers’ most recent letter comes after Black students’ outreach using the #BlackAtKState hashtag, a racially insensitive tweet from a student — posted Thursday — and the ensuing backlash from K-State student athletes in response to the university’s initial statements about the aforementioned tweet and its author.

Myers said he has heard from hundreds of K-Staters in the past week.

“Their messages have one common theme: They want to eliminate the hurtful and hateful speech on our campuses,” Myers said.

In the letter, Myers recalled his experiences with free speech and his involvement in the Vietnam War.

“While I was fighting in the air over Southeast Asia, there were those back home protesting the war and calling our servicemen and servicewomen vile names,” Myers said. “Of course, I didn’t agree with their hurtful statements, but I did agree to risk my life and die if necessary for their freedoms.”

While Myers wrote that there is no place for racism, bigotry or hate on the K-State campus, the letter contains scant details on what action the university will take.

“I’ve asked our administration to fast-track action plans to combat racism and bigotry and other forms of social injustice,” Myers said.

The action plans, Myers said, will be shared in a K-State Today announcement this week.

Meanwhile, Myers said he is willing to join peaceful protests that “let those who spew hatred and bigotry know that we have an even stronger voice.”

An upcoming protest against racism on campus is planned for Saturday afternoon, organized by students Tori Swanson, senior in psychology and American ethnic studies, and Miranda Urban, senior in social work. According to the organizers’ social media graphic, the march route starts in Triangle Park and ends at the President’s Residence.

Victor Andrews, graduate student in kinesiology and vice president of the Native American Student Body, said his initial reaction to Myers’ letter was disappointment.

“I felt that voice[s] from people of color were being ignored until student athletes were involved,” Andrews said.

Moving forward, Andrews said the university’s Clery Act reporting system needs to be fixed.

“When students receive biased/racially driven remarks from students, staff or faculty, there is no transparent … system for this,” Andrews said.

I'm Dene Dryden, and I graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor's of Arts in English. Before graduating, I worked at the Collegian for more than three years as a copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief. I also served a term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. While at K-State, I also worked at Wildcat 91.1 FM. My cat Robyn is the light of my life, and I take compliments in the form of coffee.