KU Student Senate condemns violence on campus following week full of protests

FILE - Protesters gather around KU's Phi kappa Psi fraternity
FILE - Protesters gather around KU's Phi kappa Psi fraternity(WIBW)
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 1:08 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - The University of Kansas Student Senate has condemned recent violent incidents that have happened on campus following a week full of protests.

The University of Kansas Student Senate has confirmed three separate protests happened on the campus during the week of Sept. 12. It said the first was held on Sunday, Sept. 12, demanded that the University implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The second was held on Monday, Sept. 13, and was initially a rally to celebrate Indigenous culture in response to the vandalization of the KU Common Work of Art titled Native Hosts, by Edgar Heap of Birds. The last was held on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 13 and 14, and was in response to a reported case of sexual assault at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. Furthermore, this week, the KU Student Body President was also confronted for what is being called ongoing racist attacks on social media.

Taken together, the Senate said the events indicate that a large amount of the community does not feel safe and is fearful of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, racist attacks and sexual violence.

The Senate said it wants community members to know that they are not alone, especially if they feel unsafe or unseen. While the return to campus following closures due to the pandemic has brought much-needed community, the school said the past week has been both violent and has violated members of the community. It also said this kind of violence can trigger survivors and make everyone feel less safe.

“We condemn racism. We condemn sexual violence. We stand with those of you who feel unsafe,” said the Senate in a letter to students on Thursday, Sept. 16.

According to the Senate, officials are still investigating the recent acts of vandalism at the Spencer Art Museum. It is unknown what the intention of these acts was, but it is known that the impact had on the Indigenous community has been profound.

“Years of colonial violence make it impossible not to experience the desecration as racist,” said the Senate.

The Senate said the peaceful rally on Monday featured several of the community’s Indigenous artists and leaders and was a moment of affirmation and peace for many. It said it appreciates that the community allowed it into their rally to celebrate their heritage.

As for the recent incidents of sexual assault, the Senate said the acts are still under investigation. But, while the school believes in due process, it said it also believes survivors and stands with the young woman whose college career was disrupted in such a horrific way last weekend.

“We are all thinking of you, Jane Doe; you have a community on this campus that will be here to support you, and peers that are fearlessly seeking justice for you,” said the Senate.

According to the University, for those with their own #MeToo stories, confidential resources exist through the CARE Coordinator to the Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center.

The Senate said there is also another young woman that needs the community’s support. Regardless of feelings about the retweet by Student Body President Niya McAdoo, it said no one should ever be subjected to racist and misogynistic attacks for exercising their First Amendment rights.

“We condemn these attacks,” said the Senate. “It is through our ability to stand together, whether we agree with one another or not, whether we look the same or not, to shield one another and to keep one another safe, that we will truly measure the strength of community.”

According to the Senate, many have stood together in solidarity against different forms of violence in the past week. The efforts come on the heels of a long and ongoing pandemic that has deprived many members of the community. Now more than ever, it said all forms of violence need to continue to be denounced and a community of care needs to be created for all of us.

“Please know that the University Senate is a space in which you can find support,” said the members. “If you need dialogue and community, reach out to any of us, and we will work to foster these spaces for you. We also strongly believe that as a community we need to work together to ensure that all spaces feel safe and unthreatening to all of us. We are proud of KU students for their strength in standing up for all those who may not have the strength to stand alone.”

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