On Monday Oct. 2, Muhlenberg’s Center for Ethics invited co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement in Canada, Janaya Khan, to feature as a guest lecturer in this year’s speaker series entitled ‘Troubling Truth.’ Reactions to the event were not without controversy. However, one of the more troubling incidents occurred the day after Janaya Khan’s talk when posters by the so-called ‘alternative center for ethics’ were found scattered throughout campus.
The controversial posters raised an uproar across campus, including the filing of 13 Bias Incident Reporting Forms.
Whenever one of these forms is submitted, there is a certain protocol that is followed up by the Dean of Students office in order to appropriately address the students.
Dean Gulati met with many of the students who submitted concerns related to the fliers and “discussed their feelings about the incident, their motivation for completing the Bias Incident Report, and some of the outcomes they would like to see as a result of what happened.”
Gulati continued by saying “as in all cases, we talked about the conduct process, and all of the ways we may be able to go about repairing harm within our community.”
Ultimately the posters were taken down as a result of a posting violation. Posting Violations can occur if flyers are hung on non approved spaces such as windows and doors. Removing the posters as a violation of posting rules is an ‘easier’ and faster process. Comparatively, removing posters, or any form of posting, because of suspected hate crime or bias grounds, is a much more intricate and time consuming process. Because of the content of the posters, and the due process required with hate and bias related accusations, it was important to remove the posters as quickly as possible.
Other incidents around campus, such as those that occurred during Homecoming Weekend and the events surrounding Janaya Khan’s lecture, beg the question: what is the college administration is doing to support and encourage education on social justice action and involvement on campus?
In response to some of these recent events Gulati states “collectively we need to redouble our efforts to support all members of our community and ensure that we are working in every way possible to create a campus climate that is free of hate and bias and in which all students can thrive regardless of their identities.”
She continued on “specifically, President Williams and I have spent time with a number of students individually and student groups discussing these incidents and our direct follow up.”
In conclusion to the posters from the so called ‘Alternative Center for Ethics:’ “The flyers that were posted after Janaya Khan’s visit were posted anonymously, with false information, and in a way that marks particular identities in our community, particularly African American members of our community in false ways,” remarked Gulati.
Lastly, Dean Gulati said she “feel[s] strongly in the free exchange of ideas and thoughts on our campus and believe deeply in freedom of expression, but I also will defend deeply our commitment to people of all identities.”
There is contention within the community as to how to approach a dialogue on race and politics… and after the response from students and the administration, it is safe to say that anonymously putting up flyers throughout the school with inflammatory information is not the way to do it.