Minority Students Say They Don’t Feel Safe on Iowa State University Campus

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AMES, Iowa —  Donald Trump supporters verbally assaulted protesters at the Iowa vs. Iowa State game a few weeks ago. That incident led to an emotional conversation Wednesday night on the ISU campus in Ames. University President Dr. Steven Leath listened as students shared their experiences of racial discrimination.

“ISU Police failed me on September 12. I was harassed by a woman, earlier during the demonstration. She physically put her hands on my face and told you me ‘you don`t belong here,'” said graduate student Maria Alcivar at the ISU Community Multicultural Discussion. Hundreds and hundreds of students showed up for the multicultural discussion to make their presence felt, and to share their emotional stories; things they experienced on September 12, and on other days. The students that spoke at the multicultural discussion said they feel unsafe, discriminated against, and unwelcome on the ISU campus.

It was comments made about immigrants by Donald Trump (comments made when he announced he was running for President) that students were originally protesting against at the tailgate before the CyHawk game on Saturday, September 12. The students were protesting peacefully at the tailgate when they were met with hostility and racial discrimination. “Some people were saying ‘go back home.’ I got asked do I speak Spanish. Someone said, ‘we will sue all your asses…’ We got called immigrants, and idiots, and lots of other things when we were standing there peacefully,” said Sophomore Joi Latson. “I was hurt because I’m from a small town in Iowa where diversity is accepted and it’s really common and I actually felt scared since it’s my first year being here in Ames and I didn`t know how to adapt to the different type of respect or lack of,” said Sophomore Diana Lopez. Both Latson and Lopez were at the protest on September 12, and they also showed up for the multicultural discussion on Wednesday night.

The only silver lining is that the confrontation at the protest has led to a larger discussion about how to create a better environment for students on campus. University leadership called the behavior at the tailgate deplorable and unacceptable, and vowed to take action to make positive changes so that all students feel safe on campus. “I`m equally concerned though about the subsequent reports of racism, discrimination, marginalization that some of you have brought forward during the last couple of weeks. Honestly, I underestimated the issue that many of you have,” said University President Dr. Steven Leath. One of the goals discussed Wednesday night was to create an atmosphere where students feel safe enough to talk about issues of race and discrimination and also feel safe enough to report racially motivated crimes.

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