Faculty Senate takes on white power propaganda

JJ Bullock, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern’s Faculty Senate held a lengthy discussion about the white supremacy propaganda found on campus last week at its meeting Tuesday afternoon. The creation of a sub-committee to address diversity on campus and the writing of a joint-senate letter were at the center of the conversation. 

The Senate voted unanimously to create a sub-committee, or some variation of a sub-committee, that will tackle some of the diversity issues and topics facing Eastern in the near and distant future. The committee accepted volunteers on Tuesday, but it will not be officially populated until a later meeting. 

A draft of a joint letter from Eastern’s Faculty, Staff and Student Senate was discussed as well, with Senate members weighing in on the language and wording of parts of the letter which aims to condemn white supremacy on Eastern’s campus and across the globe. 

Faculty Senate chair C.C. Wharram said the letter should be released within 24 to 48 hours, once all of the language and content is agreed upon among the three bodies. 

“We need to make clear as faculty, and we joined with Staff and Student Senates in doing this, that we need to make it clear to our colleagues of color, the people on campus who represent different religious and ethnic and racial minorities, that we support them and that we care about them,” Wharram said. “The first thing we want to make sure is that we make an unequivocal condemnation of this, for that reason, to make people feel like this doesn’t belong on campus and we support their inclusion here.”

Wharram added that addressing this issue as faculty at a place of higher learning is especially important because the concepts behind white supremacy go against fact and reality.

“It’s based on not anything to do with science, it’s based on everything to do with hatred and ignorance and all the angry issues that it comes from,” Wharram said. “So, for those two reasons, it’s really important for us to make a statement about it, even though it may be seen as falling into the trap of producing a response.”

Eastern Provost Jay Gatrell thanked the Faculty Senate for its leadership and support for students during this time and said he supports the creation of a diversity and race sub-committee fully. 

Some Senate members raised questions about the nature of the propaganda released, asking if it had sparked any cause for safety concerns or if it had targeted a specific group of people. 

Gatrell said: “We are a safe campus. I cannot reiterate that enough.”

The Eastern community as a whole has almost unanimously condemned the white supremacy messages distributed around campus, students voiced their displeasure on social media and Eastern President David Glassman made a statement to the community saying the materials “wholly contradict the university’s commitments to its core values of diversity, inclusivity and equity.”

Wharram felt much of the same sentiment. 

“It’s more than aggravating,” Wharram said. “It’s disheartening to know that these things are going on all across the country. As we pointed out, this is not a unique problem to EIU or to Charleston, this is something that is going on everywhere right now. At the same time, it’s mysterious why this is coming back.”

Wharram said when something like this happens at Eastern it “kind of hits home.”

“You start to realize that this isn’t just an abstract problem that exists in the ethernet, this is something that is here too,” he said. “And we’re just joining in the crowd and saying, ‘We have got to put a stop to this.’”

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]