UNL taking aim at racism with marketing campaign - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 11:16 am / Updated at 3:50 am
UNL taking aim at racism with marketing campaign

The University of Nebraska-­Lincoln will launch a marketing campaign aimed at quashing racism after several incidents of racial insensitivity on campus this month.

Chancellor Harvey Perlman sent a collegewide email Thursday condemning racial intolerance after “use of the N-word and insensitive racial impersonations” were brought to his attention.

Graffiti of the N-word on campus and a student's use of the word during a student government meeting prompted Perlman's email, UNL spokesman Steve Smith said.

“I know we are not the only place where these actions have occurred,” Perlman wrote in the email. “But I ask all of you to rise up and say, 'Not here, not now.' ”

That message — “not here, not now” — will be the focus of a comprehensive campaign of marketing and special student programs, said Juan Franco, UNL's vice chancellor for student affairs. The campaign still is being developed.

“As a university community, we do not tolerate these kinds of behaviors,” Franco said.
“They hurt all of us. And we should rise above that.”

The racial climate has been a prominent topic among students since last month at UNL, where minorities make up 11 percent of the student body.

Last month, the Mexican American Student Association raised concerns about skits at a homecoming event that drew heavily on Mexican stereotypes.

A controversial discussion at the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska on Nov. 13 also drew attention after a senator proposed a resolution asking its members to drop derogatory language from their vocabularies. The resolution passed after a debate in which a student senator defended use of the N-word and other offensive language as free speech.

The association has called for a disciplinary hearing for the senator, Cameron Murphy, a graduate student in biochemistry and nutrition. Murphy could not be reached for comment.

On Wednesday, administrators learned that the N-word was written in chalk on the sidewalk outside a fraternity house this week, Smith said. College administrators are reviewing security tapes for clues.

Continued discussion by the student association brought dozens more students than normal to this week's meeting, including Alicia Dominguez, a UNL graduate student and treasurer of the Latina/Latino Graduate Student Association and Allies.

Dominguez said it's clear the student governing body is doing its best to address complaints about racial insensitivity. The discussions have brought an opportunity, too, for multicultural groups and the mostly white student association to work more closely together, she said.

“I think everyone in that room had a really vested interest in bridging that gap,” she said.

Annie Himes, a student senator at UNL, said she will call for an impeachment vote after Murphy's disciplinary hearing. She also hopes Perlman's note will bring a larger dialogue about how UNL students can do better when it comes to respecting diversity.

“As a representative of the entire UNL student body, it is our duty to make sure we are fostering an inclusive, sensitive and aware community,” Himes said.

» Read the full statement from UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman.

Contact the writer: Kate Howard Perry

kate.perry@owh.com    |   402-444-3185    |  

Kate writes about Nebraska's community colleges, state colleges and university system.

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