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March on Emporia provides support to Hales, criticism of ESU

Passionate but peaceful. That describes the March on Emporia held Tuesday at Emporia State University.

About 150 people, mainly students, marched around Kellogg Circle to protest what they say is a less-than-diverse atmosphere on campus and also to support Dr. Melvin and Angelica Hale, the couple who say the university failed both in its atmosphere and in its response to what they say was a hate crime in the School of Library and Information Management.

Dr. Hale says ESU lacks diversity and the university's internal investigation findings -- no hate crime, no racial discrimination -- after the discovery of a racial epithet found on a notebook in April is wrong.

 {wbty_audio audio_id="12161" audio_title="Hale: Diversity lacking"}

The Hales have also accused school dean Gwen Alexander of not following through on an investigation and instead creating a hostile work atmosphere for the couple.

Black students tell KVOE News they are disappointed with the current diversity state of affairs at ESU. Sophomore Kayla Gilmore, an Honors College student from Kansas City, Mo., says diversity is a "selling point" but not necessarily a truth for the university.

{wbty_audio audio_id="12162" audio_title="Gilmore: Token student"}

Emporia State, meanwhile, has said it found no evidence of racial discrimination or a hate crime after an internal review was corroborated by a pair of external consultants. It has also exonerated the employee accused of writing the racial slur in question while saying it will set up a work group involving faculty, staff and students to develop a more inclusive atmosphere at the university. Interim President Dr. Jackie Vietti acknowledges there is a split of opinion on campus, with some faculty and students seeing ESU as inclusive alongside others who don't.

{wbty_audio audio_id="12163" audio_title="Vietti: We have to find solutions"}

Vietti says the university has already had two meetings with black and Latino faculty and staff in the recent days, with meetings with shared governance, Faculty Senate, Unclassified Support Staff and Unclassified Commission groups to come. Community members and alums may be included as well. Noted facilitator Juan Johnson will help the university's diversity and inclusivity discussion with a meeting Oct. 7.

Black Student Union Vice President Deidra Elijah, a junior from Kansas City, Kan., says the upcoming work on diversity may not be enough to satisfy minority students like herself. She has sent a letter to Interim President Dr. Jackie Vietti and has a face-to-face meeting set for Thursday.

{wbty_audio audio_id="12164" audio_title="Elijah: Not OK"}

Vietti says ESU is committed to "helping students find their voices," and so long as an initiative doesn't interfere with classes or safety and security, the university will support it.

{wbty_audio audio_id="12165" audio_title="Vietti: Howe we live"}

To be included in Emporia State's diversity discussion, call the President's Office at 341-5551.

8:55 am Tuesday: March on Emporia nearly here

The March on Emporia is taking place on the Emporia State campus starting late Tuesday morning.

Activities will start at 11:30 am at the ESU Sunken Garden and continue until around 2 pm.

The march was organized by Dr. Melvin and Angelica Hale, the School of Library and Information professor and one-time graduate assistant in the department who organized the march to bring attention to what they say are equality issues at ESU. They have accused the university of practicing institutional racism after a racial slur was discovered written on a notebook in a graduate assistant office in the school. They have also accused school dean Gwen Alexander of not following through on an investigation and instead creating a hostile work atmosphere for the couple, and they have accused the school of violating the federal Clery Act mandating annual reports of violence on campus.

Emporia State, meanwhile, has said it found no evidence of racial discrimination or a hate crime after an internal review was corroborated by a pair of external consultants. It has also exonerated the employee accused of writing the racial slur in question while saying it will set up a work group involving faculty, staff and students to develop a more inclusive atmosphere at the university. On the Clery Act accusation, ESU says its deadline for reporting any 2015 incidents is in the fall of next year.