LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Statement from SGA president and President Gary Ransdell

Letter from University and SGA Presidents addressing post-election climate

A Statement from President Gary A. Ransdell and Student Body President Jay Todd Richey

Western Kentucky University Students,

Over the past few days, our university community has witnessed numerous incidents of hateful behavior, directed mostly at students of color, LGBTQ students, Muslim students, and other minority populations. This is absolutely unacceptable. As we strive to be a leading American university with international reach, one of the core components of our mission must be building a more inclusive environment for all, where no one should ever feel unwelcome because of who they are. We love and embrace all students, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, faith, or nationality.

The hateful rhetoric and actions we have seen are more than just offensive. They feed into a dangerous spiral of divisiveness that undermines the fabric of our university community and sometimes even threatens the safety of our Hilltoppers.

However, we believe that Western Kentucky University is better than the mean-spirited acts of a few, and that most people here stand on the side of inclusivity, embracement, and respect for others. If you see someone being targeted, don’t be a bystander. Report the incident and stick around for the victim. We must support one another.

You can also help by becoming involved in efforts to unite students and comfort those who feel marginalized. Join some of the fun, welcoming activities that various students have planned, or start your own. Speak with someone at the WKU Center for Citizenship and Social Justice (Tate Page Hall Room 110) about how you can make a difference in your community.

And if you have experienced hateful behavior or are fearful that you will, please know this: we stand with you and all students, and we will do all that we can to ensure that every student who enrolls here belongs here.

If you are distressed, speak with our professionals at the WKU Counseling and Testing Center (Potter Hall Room 409) and the WKU Intercultural Student Engagement Center (DSU Room 2041). They are here to help.

If you want a designated safe area in which to study and spend time with friends, the offices of the WKU Student Government Association (DSU Room 2045) will be kept open and staffed after hours for the rest of this semester to provide that. The SGA is also organizing a social platform that will connect students who feel unsafe walking on campus at night with other students who will volunteer to walk with them.

Finally, download Rave Guardian, a free app that offers a variety of campus safety resources and puts the power of our campus blue lights in the palm of your hand.

One of the greatest qualities of Western Kentucky University is its big-heartedness, the way it comes together to support each other. As our university community and our nation heals from a divisive election, we must support our democracy and WKU spirit now more than ever. Be kind to one another, support one another, and do all that you can to keep this place open to all. We will stand with all of you every step of the way.

President Gary A. Ransdell

Student Body President Jay Todd Richey