I can imagine how the faculty and staff at Colorado State are feeling about this PR disaster. The cops pulled two native American students out of a tour group because someone else in the group phoned in a complaint.
Police body camera footage and telephone recordings captured an incident in which two Native American teenagers were pulled from a Colorado college tour and questioned after another tour member reported “odd” behavior by “creepy kids.”
The accusation: “people were worried because you were real quiet”. Quiet. That’s a crime now? They behaved politely and didn’t cause any trouble…clearly a case for cops.
I blame the racist woman who called this in, but I also blame the police: they should have asked her what they were doing, and when she said they were “real quiet”, they should have said that that’s not a problem, and if you’re going to call up the cops with such bullshit complaints, she’s the one who ought to be pulled out of the tour group and questioned. But no, they take two quiet young men aside and frisk them and ask for proof that they’re actually invited members of the tour.
Two young men, through no fault of their own, wound up frightened and humiliated because another campus visitor was concerned about their clothes and overall demeanor, which appears to have simply been shyness. The very idea that someone – anyone – might “look” like they don’t belong on a CSU Admissions tour is anathema. People of all races, gender identities, orientations, cultures, religions, heritages, and appearances belong here. As long as you want to earn a great education surrounded by people with the same goal who come from every part of our state, our country, and our world, then you belong here. And if you’re uncomfortable with a diverse and inclusive academic environment, then you probably have a better fit elsewhere.
It would be unfair to penalize the child of the woman who made the baseless complaint, but I hope she at least feels unwelcome at CSU.
We are, in fact, in a battle with hate within our communities. While much of what we have been speaking about is born of ignorance, we can educate against ignorance. The hate that is in the hearts of white supremacists as they attempt to frighten and isolate people across this country is not ignorance. It’s a malignant choice. The increase in racist and anti-Semitic symbols and language and demonstrations across America’s college campuses has been well-documented. We at CSU have simply chosen to deal with these issues in a more open manner, and that comes at a potential reputational cost to CSU for being public when such things occur. But history has shown us that hate grows in the face of silence. Hate is not made uncomfortable. Hate does not shrink from fear. What affects hate is our willingness to shine a bright and unwavering light on it and to face it and confront it.
There is no place for hate at Colorado State University, and we will not be silent when we see it.
Now…chew out the cops, too. Don’t accept the excuse that they were just doing their jobs, because part of their job should be recognizing when exercising pointless authority causes more trouble than it solves.