Eastern responds to racial slur written on Doudna’s Stairwell

Analicia Haynes , Managing Editor

After a racist slur was written in a stairwell of the Doudna Fine Arts Center, Kiara Reed, a freshman political science major, took to social media to call out racism on campus.

She said when her friend showed her the picture he had taken of the N-word, which was written in the stairwell in big, pink, chalky letters, she asked why it had not been shared on social media.   In the photo, the word itself is circled in red, with the caption “So I’m walking right…and then all I see is this….still happening in 2018….get it together EIU.”

Reed said she posted the photo to her Twitter on Thursday and tagged @eiu. The photo was taken before Thursday, though. “This is just ridiculous,” Reed said.

In response, Eastern’s Twitter page said the slur was removed Thursday morning but that it is “disgusted” that it was ever there in the first place.

“An investigation (into the incident) was started when the request was initially reported,” the university tweeted.

In response to the incident, Eastern sent an email to all students on Friday citing a zero-tolerance stance on discriminatory language.

The email said an investigation revealed “no credible safety threat to students or staff.”   According to the email, Eastern’s mission includes creating and maintaining a learning environment where all students feel safe.   “In addition to being prohibited, actions or behaviors contrary to that commitment are clearly inconsistent with EIU’s values and vision.

Any groups or individuals found in violation of that commitment will be held accountable,” the email stated. Reed said the email was not enough. “It’s like running someone over, then only saying sorry. I feel that Eastern is more worried about their image than their students,” she said.

Reed said she was disgusted when her friend first showed her the picture. However, when she started to feel angry, she said that was when she realized the incident was not much of a surprise after all.

“I know where I’m at (in) Charleston ‘rural’ Illinois,” she said. “It’s just something I would expect.”

Reed said racism is still prevalent on campus because of what people in the area are raised to believe in.

“I’m not asking them to feel a different way. Just don’t make me feel uncomfortable in a place where we both pay to be here. It’s just disgusting,” she said. “I’m not asking you to change your opinion. Just keep it to yourself.”

Reed called the act “childish” and said the person who wrote the word is a coward.

“Seriously? You’re going to make me feel like I don’t have a space here?” Reed said. “You see us walking by you on campus, you say nothing. You don’t come to our events, you don’t say anything in class, you have classmates that are black. You don’t say anything. You don’t say anything when we’re playing on your sports teams, so it was a cowardly thing to do.”

In an email sent to department chairs in the College of Arts and Humanities Thursday afternoon, interim dean Anita Shelton addressed the issue.  “I want to assure everyone that this hateful act does not in any way represent our college, and we denounce it,” she wrote in the email. “The Doudna was designed and built to encourage creativity and self-expression. The chalkboard walls are part of this., but self-expression cannot include hateful attacks on others.”

Shelton wrote that the college does not tolerate instances like this and will “be keeping a close eye on all parts of the building” in response.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].