Hope College minority students threatened, intimidated after election

Hope students targeted after election

HOLLAND, MICH. - At Hope College, school leaders say several minority students were targeted a day after the election.

The students were reportedly threatened and intimidated, according to an email sent to students from Hope's president.

On Thursday, the college's spokeswoman told us the incidents happened on campus and were related to the election. 

Outside the multi-cultural center on Hope's campus, world flags fly high as a symbol of diversity.  However, inside the building there was a sign of intolerance on campus, when a student shared his story at a post-election meeting on Wednesday.

"The student said he was called the N-word and the teacher was not around in the room," says Paris Madison, a senior at Hope College. 

Madison attended the meeting at the Martha Miller Center on the Hope College campus. 

"People were in tears and it was just an eerie feeling to walk in and you're like, 'what's going on', and hearing from his mouth was like, 'Wow'," says Madison. 

On Wednesday, Hope College President John Knapp sent an email to other students saying that several minority students reported experiencing threats and intimidating behavior after the election.

"I am a minority so coming from that background, I know it can be difficult to deal with that," says Brittany Henkin, a freshman at Hope College.

With the way the election played out, people are just not afraid to show their true colors," says Madison.

Knapp's email goes on to say "Hope College remains fully committed to upholding the God-given worth and dignity of every person, regardless of race, ethnicity, place of origin, ability, gender or other differences. "

On Thursday, other students came forward to take a stand.

"That shouldn't happen, we should all just respect each other," says Seth Gangler, a junior at Hope College. 

"I don't think that's welcomed here at Hope College, hatred is just not what this campus is founded on," says Jacob Pledger, a junior at Hope College. 

"I feel like Hope College offers a secure and safe campus environmnent," says Henkin. 

Madison says when she first visited Hope College, "I felt like this was home".  She says she's not second guessing that, despite the latest incidents. 

"Hope's still a great place," says Madison. 

A Hope College spokeswoman says that type of behavior has no place at Hope College. 

Full statement:

Dear Hope Community,

I write to share a few reflections on the presidential election and a few concerns about maintaining respect and civility in our campus community. As president of the college, it is not my role to express personal political views, as I have a responsibility to serve a broad constituency. First and foremost, I strive to ensure that, as a community, we are living fully into our faith and our values. 

I have no doubt that our students, staff and faculty are experiencing a variety of emotions today. Hope College is a place where individuals hold differing political and social views, and it is certain that among our friends and colleagues are supporters of both major candidates, and perhaps other candidates as well. Earlier today, both candidates called for Americans to seek common ground for the sake of our common good, and I believe we in higher education have a special role to play in fostering this essential process. At Hope College, this begins by building and sustaining a campus community where all members feel safe, valued and unified by God’s love.

For some students and employees, this is a time of fear, uncertainty and anxiety. I regret to share that, today, several minority students reported experiencing threats and intimidating behavior by other students on campus. Membership in the Hope community is by invitation, and that membership can be revoked for failure to adhere to our behavioral policies. Please be mindful of those who may feel vulnerable and report any inappropriate behavior; for information about reporting, visit the Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy website, or, to make a report, complete the online Discrimination/Harassment Reporting Form. I've asked Dean of Students Richard Frost to follow up with more information regarding resources and opportunities for students seeking care and support. 

I want to stress that whatever messages we may have heard during the campaign season, Hope College remains fully committed to upholding the God-given worth and dignity of every person, regardless of race, ethnicity, place of origin, ability, gender or other differences.

The days after this tumultuous election are a time for our community to practice civil discourse and model the virtues we so frequently espouse: humility, hospitality, patience, courage and honesty. I urge us all to be intentional about inviting courageous conversations in the classroom, the coffee shop, the residence hall and beyond. Let us boldly answer God’s call to extend grace to one another.

Thank you to those who gathered this afternoon for a time of prayer in Dimnent Chapel. I'm grateful to Dean of the Chapel Trygve Johnson for extending the invitation to all students and employees today.

With gratitude for all who strive to make Hope a caring and just community,

John

John C. Knapp, Ph.D.
President and Professor

(© 2016 WZZM)


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