UI president apologizes for response to KKK statue - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI president apologizes for response to KKK statue

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

The president of the University of Iowa is apologizing for the institution's reaction to a statue placed on campus that some called racist.

The statue, a 7-foot-tall depiction of a Ku Klux Klan member made out of newspaper clippings detailing racial protests in Iowa, was placed near the Old Capitol early on Dec. 5. It was created by Serhat Tanyolacar, who teaches art classes on campus. He said he wanted to bring awareness to the issue of racism in the U.S.

Still, without an explanation, some were put-off by the piece. Students marched from the site to the home of U of I president Sally Mason.

“The effects of the display were felt throughout the Iowa City community,” Mason wrote in an open letter to campus. “That display immediately caused Black students and community members to feel terrorized and to fear for their safety.”

Mason then apologized for the University's response.

“The university's response was not adequate, nor did that response occur soon enough,” she wrote. “Our students tell us that this portrayal made them feel unwelcomed and that they lost trust in the University of Iowa. For failing to meet our goal of providing a respectful, all-inclusive, educational environment, the university apologizes.”

Mason said she will meet with students Wednesday to devise a plan of action, and to strengthen cultural competency.

Read the full text of Mason's letter below.

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"Dear Members of the University Community:

The goal of the University of Iowa, as a higher-education institution, has always been to provide an environment where all members of our campus community feel safe and Friday, we failed. On the morning of December 5, 2014, a 7-foot tall Ku Klux Klan effigy with a camera affixed to the display was installed without permission on our campus. The effects of the display were felt throughout the Iowa City community. That display immediately caused Black students and community members to feel terrorized and to fear for their safety.

The university's response was not adequate, nor did that response occur soon enough. Our students tell us that this portrayal made them feel unwelcomed and that they lost trust in the University of Iowa. For failing to meet our goal of providing a respectful, all-inclusive, educational environment, the university apologizes. All of us need to work together to take preventive action and do everything we can to be sure that everyone feels welcome, respected, and protected on our campus and in our community.

I urge any student who was negatively affected by this incident who feels a need for support to consider contacting the University Counseling Service at 335-7294.

I will meet with students and others when I return this Wednesday to prepare a detailed plan of action that will include input from people who were impacted by Friday's incident about how the UI can better meet its responsibility to ensure that all students, faculty, staff, and visitors are respected and safe. I intend to move quickly to form a committee of students and community members to advise me on options including strengthening cultural competency training and reviewing our implicit bias training, as we move forward.

Please join me in the important work ahead.

Sally Mason

President

University of Iowa"

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