Protesters demand transparency amid recent racial incidents

by The Simpsonian Staff

INDIANOLA, Iowa — About 50 protesters, mostly Simpson College students, gathered in front of Dunn Library on Wednesday to demand transparency from the school’s administration after a string of racial incidents that they say went unaddressed.

Protesters collected more than 200 signatures from passersby on their petition demanding transparency on events that could cause panic on campus and the policies surrounding such events. They also called for more representation of students of color at the staff and administrative levels.

(Photo: Randy Paulson/The Simpsonian)

“Today is hoping to achieve social justice in the school and understanding how the administration can better help with policies that are enacted here,” said Linda Ramseur, president of the Black Student Union.

Sophomore Natalia Olivas organized the protest after they were disappointed by the administration’s response to alleged recent racist actions from students to other students earlier this month.

“We have heard from the administration time and again that they are ‘working on it’ or are ‘taking every possible action’ while doing the bare minimum against the latest racially charged events on campus with little to no information being released to the students or parents,” the protest’s Facebook page said. “They wish to keep their precious image of the college intact while ignoring the most important part of their institution: the students.”

At 12:55 p.m., the protesters convened in Black Box Theatre in Kent Campus Center to walk together to the Carver Medal Ceremony in Smith Chapel, where they stood at the back while Herma B. Williams, the 2018 Carver Medal recipient, spoke. While introducing Williams, Simpson President Jay Simmons acknowledged the demonstrators.

“I would like to thank and acknowledge and express my true appreciation for our students who have spent a cold morning outside, raising awareness for all of us about the issues that concern them regarding diversity and inclusion on our campus,” he said.

Sophomore Maggie Flowers said she hoped the protesters’ presence sent a message to the administration. “We want better answers and more explanation about what exactly is being done to combat racism on campus,” she said.

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In a statement sent out a couple of hours after the ceremony, Simmons said he and other Simpson faculty and staff fully support students’ right to free speech and commit to listening, valuing and honoring what students have to say. In an effort to do so, he and other members of the administration are holding listening sessions in Hubbell II at the following times:

– Thursday from 10-11 a.m. and from 3-4 p.m.
– Friday from 8-9 a.m. and from 2-3 p.m.

College administrators are planning another forum following spring break, but no details have been released.