Editor’s note: The following message was sent to the entire Colorado State University campus community on Sept. 10, 2019.
Dear CSU Students, Faculty and Staff,
Over the weekend, an image was posted on Instagram of several CSU students in blackface. Because of the long and ugly history of blackface in America, this photo has caused a great deal of pain to members of our community. We have heard from many of you – and we hear you. Moreover, we respect your voices. We know that images like this one – whether consciously racist or not – can perpetuate deliberate racism and create a climate that feels deeply hostile.
We also affirm that personal social media accounts are not under our jurisdiction. Our community members – students, faculty and staff – can generally post whatever they wish to post on their personal online accounts in accordance with their First Amendment rights. This recent post runs counter to our Principles of Community, but it does not violate any CSU rule or regulation, and the First Amendment prohibits the University from taking any punitive action against those in the photo.
But there is still plenty we can do. CSU is an educational institution committed to respecting every member of our community and to facilitating discussions that can promote honesty, learning, and healing. Our offices have already asked faculty and staff to share their professional expertise and personal wisdom on the issues that this posted image raises about race and identity. We will share more details next week regarding planned events and conversations.
We are all here at CSU to learn, and we believe that this can be a powerful learning moment that leads to healing and reconciliation. We urge every member of our community to listen, and to hear, all the voices that make up this wonderful, diverse campus family so we can move forward together, stronger than ever.
Joyce McConnell Blanche Hughes Mary Ontiveros
President VP for Student Affairs VP for Diversity