News of the incident did make it to the front page. It was located in the bottom left hand corner. Below the fold. Left hand side. Underneath a large square picture of a t-shirt with a red mouth. Handwritten in large letters with a marker on the shirt was "Silence Kills."
Anyone who has studied media knows that the upper right-hand area of the front page is the most prominent place for a story to run. The story that ran in that position was "Guns are coming to Simmons." I think the 'guns' story is of importance. It communicates to the student population that security guards will soon be armed while also describing other security measures being implemented in response to the Virginia Tech incident last spring. I also can see its relevance to the recent N. Illinois University shooting. But, the article's slant bends towards what will happen, not what just happened.
The 'hate crime' incident is RIGHT NOW and has implications of great importance. I will say that the paper was delicate in handling the topic. They didn't name the professor; they didn't quote or describe the contents; therefore, they didn't have much substance to deliver in the article.
Please, keep in mind that this a weekly college paper. I don't know when they deliver their content to their publisher. I'm used to The Daily Free Press who stay up until 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. to deliver breaking news. And, The FreeP has a website where they can update content instantly.
Here's my fear. That the incident, the culture that propagated it, and the issues that surround it will remain abstract as long as they are restricted to the pages of a weekly paper. As of today, I haven't seen anything appear on the homepage of MySimmons, the place that has all the news fit to post for the student (grad & undergrad) body.
There have been four official mentions of the incident available to undergrads as of now.
- the "Urgent Communication" email sent from President Scrimshaw alerting the Simmons general community of the incident and that an open meeting will occur
- the change of location for the meeting
- the "congratulatory" email sent from President Scrimshaw that praised the response and lessons learned at the open meeting
- The Simmons Voice article - "Simmons professor targeted in hate crime"
Here's what was said in the "congratulatory" email from President Scrimshaw:
Thank you, Simmons! The standing-room only community gathering yesterday to condemn racism and affirm our commitment to an honest, open, and inclusive community was heartening. Already we have gotten some good suggestions for follow up. Yesterday, we heard about steps we can all begin to take now as individuals to make our community more welcoming and more respectful - a smile, a hello, acknowledgment for every one who helps make Simmons operate so well each day, and being there for each other. In the next weeks, I will be meeting with the Diversity Council, BAFAS members and President’s Council to talk about how we can translate our concerns & energy into action. I commit to sharing next steps through your student leadership. This was Simmons at its finest and I am very proud of our community.
I will be waiting to see what the next steps are and how Simmons is going to be sure that its undergraduate students take their share of the load. I have an appointment with President Scrimshaw next Tuesday at 3:10 p.m.
I declared that I would take my share of the load in my various identities. As a friend and daughter, I have reached out to many to let them know about what happened. And, I want to thank you for all of your responses. Your words and conversations have made my world safer and brighter.
As a student, I sent a letter to The Simmons Voice. I spoke to the president of the Student Government Association urging her to recreate the warmth and strength in Wednesday's forum for the student body. I plan to attend next week's SGA meeting.
As a librarian, I did reach out to co-workers and my boss. I wanted to post a link to my blog about the incident on the Access Services blog, so that the librarians would come together as a whole to discuss issues raised at Wednesday's meeting. One thread of discussion was how the library is perceived as unwelcoming, specifically to young black students. I don't believe this is true on a fundamental level, but the perception is seeping out there. As I don't think the library is rotten at its core, constructive remedies could be applied to stop the misunderstanding.
I'm still trying to formulate how to respond as a Dix Scholar and an artist. BUT, I WILL BE DOING SO, BELIEVE ME.
As an African-American, I'll be approaching the Dean of Multicultural Students, Lisa Smith-McQueenie. And, I plan to attend the next meeting of the Black Student Organization.
As a human, I am looking people in the eye. I'm smiling at them. I infuse a little warmth in my interactions. And, I'm so glad to say: it's working!