President Allison Garrett urged Emporia State to “speak from the heart” in order to create a better environment in a campus-wide email sent yesterday. The email also said it was time for students, faculty and staff to “move forward.”
“Viewpoints and perspectives that differ from our own enrich all of our experiences. Learning from each other, however, can be messy,” Garrett said in her email. “It is up to each of us to foster a culture that reflects Emporia State’s core values of excellence, respect, responsibility and service — a culture where it is safe to share ideas, ask questions, discuss issues and speak from the heart.”
This statement follows a month long controversy that began when Michaela Todd, Associated Student Government vice president and senior political science and communication major, made a political Facebook post which referenced “illegal aliens.” The incident has prompted multiple calls for the impeachment of Todd.
The email said there were two distinct matters that affected campus: student representation and the social climate on campus.
In the email, Garrett said the matter of student representation “belongs to ASG” and did not discuss it further in her email.
“The second matter, concerning all of us, is the state of the social climate on our campus,” Garrett said in her email. “We as a campus community and as an institution must move forward. Our progress toward the kind of climate we want to exist here on campus is one that requires continuous work by every one of us. As we aspire to continuous progress, we must always look for ways to evolve and improve.”
Garrett did not elaborate in her email on the kind of campus environment she desired for ESU.
The Bulletin conducted a survey which asked five questions about attitudes toward diversity and the language framing immigration, which randomly surveyed 11.5 percent of ESU undergraduate students.
In The Bulletin survey reported last week, 38 percent of students felt the campus was divided and 35 percent said it wasn’t. The remaining 27 percent said they were neutral.
“I am personally committed to assuring that we develop a constructive path to help us along our ongoing journey,” Garrett said in her email. “As a university, we are working to complete objectives that we identified in our original Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan.”
In her email, Garrett also mentioned the ASG resolution passed last Thursday, which asked that ESU remove the phrase illegal alien from university publications, where possible.
The resolution stated that “terms such as ‘international students,’ ‘undocumented citizens,’ ‘people with unauthorized status,’ ‘people who entered the country illegally’ may be used in lieu of ‘illegal alien’ and ‘alien’ as they are more humanistic.”
The resolution was sponsored by Paul Frost, ASG senator and junior accounting major. It passed unanimously.
“The Associated Student Government of Emporia State University encourages the review and replacement of the term ‘alien’ in the university’s internal publications,” the resolution said. “Furthermore, in cases which the term “alien” is federally mandated, the Associated Student Government of Emporia State University suggests the addition of a disclosure statement explaining that the term is required.”
The resolution was sponsored by the Senate Operations Committee.
“Recent events show that this phrase deeply disturbs some members of Hornet Nation,” Garrett said in her email.
"I will assure that the university will avoid using this phrase where it is not legally appropriate.”
In her email, Garrett also talked about the steps administration has taken to focus on in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan, including a diversity education training for faculty and staff that will begin this month, the creation of a senior diversity officer and a strategic plan review committee, which will review all five steps of the university’s goals.
Garrett did not immediately respond to a Bulletin interview request.