On Sunday, Nov. 3, reports of homophobic and racist slurs written on Goshen College’s campus were made to the college. On Nov. 4, the administration began two investigations into the incident and has since identified the party or parties involved.Despite calls from students to release the name or names of the perpetrators, the administration has withheld the information in accordance with the college’s policy on bias-related incidents.
Since President Rebecca Stoltzfus condemned the hate speech in an email to the student body on Tuesday, Nov. 5, the administration has provided no further public information about the incident.
Katie Baer, a junior and leader of Advocates, a campus club supporting education and awareness of LGBTQ+ concerns, called for transparency in a statement last Monday.
“As an Advocates leader, I’m pretty disappointed in Goshen (College) for not being transparent with the students about the process,” Baer said. “There are tons of victims on this campus that want actions taken... We want to know who the perpetrator is because that would let LGBTQ and black students who were affected by this hate [speech] be aware of who is safe to be around.”
According to the Goshen College Student Life Handbook, students documented in an incident that breaks community standards “are not presumed responsible.” The handbook states that documented students “can also expect their privacy will be maintained.”
The Bias Matters Response Team (BMRT), formerly known as the Racial Misconduct Response Team, and the GC Student Conduct team were tasked with the investigation. BMRT expects to have written and corroborated statements from those responsible by Friday and will give recommendations for disciplinary action to the Goshen College Student Conduct team on Tuesday.
Those recommendations will not be made public, according to LaKendra Hardware, Ph.D., director of diversity, equity and inclusion and faculty advisor for the Black Student Union.
Senior Rachael Klink, a member of the black community on campus, urges administration to strongly consider expelling the perpetrator.
“I cannot respect those who don’t respect my basic humanity,” Klink said. “I don’t feel that I should have to share a campus with those who struggle to respect or acknowledge my basic humanity.”
President Stoltzfus said that her priority is the safety and well-being of every member of the Goshen College campus, and would reveal the identity of the perpetrator if she felt it was necessary.
She said, “If we sense there is any real or imminent danger from this perpetrator, or anybody, we will act. We believe that we can move through this confidential process and that the campus community is not at any continued risk from this perpetrator.”
“Based on the case, we will have some recommended actions and programming that we will share around campus,” Hardware said.
Although the process is confidential and names cannot be released due to school policy, students will hear more about the work BMRT will be involved in following the investigation as they look to implement an awareness and education component which they hope not only brings positive outcomes to the parties involved, but also sparks constructive conversation around campus.
All GC students received an email from President Rebecca Stoltzfus on Tuesday, Nov. 5, in which she opened by saying: “On November 3, racial and gender-based slurs were found on a campus sidewalk. Hate language — which this was — intimidates and excludes, and is antithetical to the respect and kindness that we extend to all members of our community.”
President Stoltzfus later corrected this statement to say the slurs used were “racist and homophobic.” She also included that the Bias Matters Response Team (BMRT), formerly known as the Racial Misconduct Response Team, as well as GC Student Conduct, would be running two separate investigations on the matter.