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DES MOINES, IOWA — Students say racist notes were found on Drake University’s campus this past weekend. Several students are upset about it. 

The university says racist notes were found in Cowles Library and a first-year residence hall. The incident saddens drake University senior Marlee Rutledge. She works in the community-engaged learning office, which is located in the library.

“There were two of four notes. The other two were found in the residence hall. The other two were found on my boss’s desk in the community-engaged learning [office], stating, ‘screw Black History Month’ and ‘screw Black lives matter,” said Rutledge.

Rutledge says school leaders met with black and brown students to discuss the incident, but she believes more needs to be done so this does not happen again.

“It would be nice if there were more actionable consequences when racialized antagonisms happen on campus,” said Rutledge.

“We usually just have a town hall or do like a performative measure such as like ‘Paint it Black’ and then we have the same incident happen one or two years later.”

The University Provost, Sue Mattison, wrote this letter to students. 

“On Friday, President Martin and I learned about racist messages that were posted in Cowles Library and in a first-year residence hall. Many of you have heard about this already. The messages were attacks against Black people. We are working to find the individual(s) who posted these messages, to bring a just resolution to the matter. If anyone has any information that will help us discover who did this, it is imperative that you come forward. Please email Chief Student Affairs Officer Dr. Jerry Parker, Dean of Students Dr. Hannah Clayborne, Associate Provost of Campus Equity and Inclusion Dr. Jennifer Harvey, or myself (all emails included above). If anyone else has been impacted by this incident, please seek support. You can start by contacting the Drake University Counseling Center.

Yesterday, several of us met with students of color and others to talk about this incident. What I heard: students of color are exhausted, facing overt racism and microaggressions every single day. In sharing their experiences, they gave us insight into solutions, and we will act. 

I want to repeat here and affirm what we say in our Drake University Statement of Principles: “We abhor acts of oppression, be they denial of freedom of expression, discrimination in its various forms of sexism or racism, or intolerance of religion, age, sexual orientation, or political beliefs; or harassment of any member of the university community.”  

Every student has every right to feel and to be safe on Drake’s campus.

While we can’t escape the racism that is present in our world, we will continue to grow antiracism and be antiracist on our campus and in our communities. This commitment includes delivering on the message that we will not tolerate racist acts like the one our community is facing right now. It means we will continue to develop programs and initiatives to ensure we are proactive in preventing such incidents.”

University Provost, Sue Mattison