*Note: Anywhere you see […] means we couldn’t tell what the speaker was saying.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I’ve been the President of Georgetown College for 20 years, which is a long time, and this is the first time in 20 years I’ve ever called a meeting like this, and what I want to do this morning is talk to you a little bit about a major focus of the college, and that’s the whole area of diversity. We started our diversity efforts about 10 years ago, and we started diversity efforts for three reasons. The first reason is we just thought it was the right thing to do. You know, Kentucky is the whitest state, one of the whitest states in America. In the 1990 census, there were 17 counties in this part of Kentucky that had no African-Americans living in the county. The majority of our students who are coming to Georgetown College had not been around diversity in high school in any large measure and we felt it was the right thing to do to diversify our campus so that we could fully educate you about what the world is going to be like. The second thing is a faith-based institution, we felt it was the right thing to do to make opportunities available to people of all races, all religions, all ethnicities so that they would have the opportunity to have a Georgetown College education.
So with professional developmental, professional diversity help, including Dr. Parker from the University of Kentucky, who came and trained our staff, we hired Brian Evans and Robbie Barber and brought them here, and we began to go down this diversity road. So we’ve been at it a while.
Let me introduce real quickly Dr. Parker, stand up please. Dr. Geral Parker is a Georgetown College trustee. He’s also the father of a GC graduate, he lives in Cincinnati, and he’s been a vital part of our trustee board the last six years as we’ve made this diversity journey.
I want to tell you about the Navy, the Royal Navy in England from 1793 to 1820. 1793 to1820, the Royal Navy of England ruled the world. They were the most powerful navy in the world, they controlled all the seas, and yet the people of England, a lot of them were living in poverty because all the money was being poured into the navy. Now to control one of these large ships that the navy had, they had to have big ropes, and so they had three ports where they made ropes, and they had what they called the yard walk, and the yard walk was a long shelter, and inside the long shelter was a machine that would take the nine strands, they’d lay out nine strands of rope. They’re running this machine and it would turn and twist the rope, so that when the rope came out the other end, you had one big rope with nine strands that had been tightly wound together and then with that rope they were able to dock their ship, they were able to raise their sails, they were able to do whatever it took for that boat to work.
But because of the poverty in England, a lot of the people in England would go into the ship yards and steal things, because the navy had better food, better cups and plates and everything. And one of the most valuable things they would steal would be the rope. And so the king had to figure out how he could differentiate his rope from all the other ropes in England, and so the king came up with what he called the scarlet strand. And so in every rope that was made from that point on by the royal navy, a royal strand, a red scarlet strand, had to be in the middle of the nine strands, so whenever you saw a rope with a red stand running through it, you knew it was the king’s.
Now I’ve used that story a lot to think about you students, and I believe every student, regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of ethnicity, has a scarlet rope running through you and it’s called the King’s, and all of you are made by God, and all of you are as important as anyone else on this campus, and our job as a Christian college, and there’s some question as to whether we are a Christian college, our job as a Christian college is to treat everybody as if they’re a part of the king’s army, that they’re a part of that strand.
Last week we had a reported incident of a racial slur on our campus. Today I’m issuing an email to everybody on campus and I wanted to talk to you before the email goes out saying that racial intolerance and racial slurs are not going to be acceptable on this campus, never have been and they never will be. And as the leaders of organizations on this campus, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your organization understands that. Now we have a judicial process that we will always follow. It’s a legal process, and it’s a process that we will follow whenever we have any racial intolerance on our campus, and we will go through that process, and fortunately or unfortunately, that process is always a private process. That’s the law of the land. And the offenders will go through that process and they will be given punishment anywhere from having to write papers to expulsion, depending upon whatever the judiciary group decides, but they will be, go through that process.
Now how do we, how do we get at this? We’ve decided the way we’re going to get at this is we’re establishing today a Presidential Hotline. The number’s going to be 502-863-8500. It’s going to be in the email you receive, and any student who hears any racial slurs, any student that feels anything coming towards them is motivated by racial hatred, or anybody that sees anything can pick up that phone and call that number. It will be anonymous if you choose for it to be, and we will act on it on a daily basis. That phone will be monitored. Now it doesn’t help us if we don’t know who it is who did the crime, and part of the anonymous phone is to allow you the ability to let us know. It’s just like any other infraction on our campus. If we don’t know who’s done the infraction, there’s no way we can hold people accountable. But as a Christian college, we hold each other accountable, we give each other the responsibility to act in a Christ-like manner, and we move forward as a community of faith and trust.
Don’t know if you’re aware, but we have Muslim students on our campus. We have a Muslim prayer room because we want our Muslim students to be able to practice their faith as well. And Ramadan is coming up soon, and Ramadan is a Muslim holiday. And in Muslim holidays, the student is not allowed to eat when the sun’s up. Well guess when our cafeteria is open? When the sun’s up. And so we’ll make special provisions for Muslim students to be able to eat their meals after the sun goes down. We’ve offered to our Jewish students, and we have Jewish students here, that we will provide transportation to them to go to the synagogue so that they can practice their religion. Our job is to show hospitality to all people.
Just recently the US chamber of commerce came out with an indication about what leadership is and they said that the leaders of the future are going to be those people who can handle complex issues. Because we are a residential college and will always be a residential college, you learn a lot in the dorms. You learn a lot outside of the classroom, and what you often learn a lot outside the classroom is complex issues – how to live with people that are different than you, how to get along with people who believe differently than you, how to relate to different fraternities and different sororities. That’s part of the complexities of life. What’s happening in Egypt, what’s happening in other countries of the world makes our lives more complex. Your world is the most complex world that we’ve ever known. Pornography is at your fingertips. Alcohol is everywhere. Now we know about the Royal Asian Buffet, we know the Royal Asian Buffet at 10:00 allows our students to go in and to drink alcohol uncarded. We know about those things, and you are adults, and you have to be responsible, and you have to figure out those complex issues, and how you’re going to relate to those, and what it means to be a Christian or a Muslim or of the Jewish faith.
We’re beginning to bring a lot of international students to our campus. This past couple weeks, we had 14 Brazilians. All of them were Catholic. We believe we’ve got a large number of Chinese students coming in the fall. All of them are going to be Confucius religion. We have students from Venezuela, we have students from Chile. We have all different kinds of students from around the world we’re bringing you so you can understand the complexities of life, so you can learn to deal with these kinds of individuals who are different from you, because four years of Georgetown College or five years of Georgetown College, you’re going to go out there in the world and that’s what you’re going to face and we haven’t done a good job of educating you if we haven’t prepared you for that world that you’re going to go into.
So we’ve got a tough task here. We’ve got a tough task of learning how to live together, and treating everybody as if they have a royal strand that runs through them. It’s a hard task. Recently I spoke in a black church, and I’ve been in a lot of black churches and I thought I understood the vocabulary, but there was something that I said that offended some of the people in that church. I didn’t mean to offend them but I didn’t understand those words would be negative to them and perceived in that way, and I’m trying to learn what I did wrong so I won’t do it again, and that’s what we’ve all got to do. We’ve got to talk to each other, we’ve got to integrate with each other, and we’ve got to learn about each others’ cultures if we’re going to be truly educated people, which is what Georgetown College is about.
The Council of American Trustees, a large group in Washington, D.C., just ranked us as the top private college in Kentucky. The Southern Association of Colleges and universities in the top 55 colleges in the south have just voted us in to be a new member beside Duke, Wake Forest, the University of Northern Carolina, Davidson, Mercer. We’re now a part of those kind of colleges, and we have an opportunity to continue to rise in reputation as a college, but more importantly to me is that you rise as an individual, and that your organization rises as an individual. We’re gonna have to hold organizations accountable. Now unfortunately, it only takes one or two or three people to break down an organization. It only takes one or two, three people to cause this kind of meeting to take place, and we’re a community of 2,000 people and what we’ve got to be able to do is to identify those people who are, who behave in that way, who hurt people in ways, by things that they say or do, and we gotta treat those people in a judicial way, and we will. So, the hotline is in existence right now. The email is going out at 8:00 to everybody on campus. We will be bringing in trained professional diversity counselors to lead our whole campus in diversity training. Don’t know whether we’re going to do it organization by organization or whether we’re gonna do it group by group. We’re going to continue to have celebrations on our campus like Martin Luther King celebration, and of course with our CEP and NEXUS program, you’re not required to go to those type of programs, but if you’re really interested in learning about complex issues, then I want you to join us when we bring those type of events to campus so that you can learn and that you can experience people who are different from you. We’ve got the Slavery Trade event coming up on March 1, 2 and 3 and we want to learn about that. We’ve got the Dance-a-Thon. Where’s my Dance-a-Thon person? Tell real quickly about the Dance-a-Thon.
Those are the type of things that we need to do to show unity, show that the Georgetown College family is one family whenever we have the opportunity to do that. Dr. Parker, would you like to say anything to the group?
Thank you Dr. Crouch. I don’t have much to say. I’m here really to listen, listen to possibly what you have to say and I listen to Dr. Crouch all the time, but there is this perception on Georgetown’s campus that you don’t know who we are and we don’t know who you are, but we affect your lives every single day as you move up and down this campus, and what we as trustees want to do is to become more visible, become more aware so that you become more aware of who we are. We are sorry that we had to start to become visible during incidents like this but we as a joint board fully support Dr. Crouch in his diversity efforts, we are going forward with this effort, we’re not going to let one or two individuals wreck our ship […] college forward.
So we appreciate you, we want your support, we want you to know as we have told Dr. Crouch that he has the support of the Board of Trustees. If there are issues that come up, that you feel you want to talk to the Board of Trustees, we had an excellent meeting the last Board of Trustees meeting, the editor of your paper was there, and she wrote a very nice article, I don’t know if she’s here now. Excellent article about the trustees. The first time I’d ever seen one.
I came to GC ten years ago, dropped my son off here, scared to death. We didn’t know what he was going to go through, but it was the best four years of his life, and we looked at him after he graduated and said “You’re leaving, but your mother and I are staying.” we’ve been here. We’ve come back and forth and he went on to law school, he’s now a prosecutor in Montogomery County, Ohio. I say that to say that this is the best kept secret you’ll probably ever have, this campus. You ought to take advantage of it and don’t like incidents like what’s happening now wreck your ship.
I go to affairs here on campus, diversity affairs; I don’t see you […] so I’m asking that diversity be a two-way street…for all of us.
I came through the era of segregation. I know what it’s like. I’ve imparted those stories to my son. He understands that as an African American, he was to live two lives. He’s gotta live his life in the African American community, and he’s gotta come outside his front door and live your life, and it’s confusing. So we need to let you understand how we live our lives, so that we can understand also your lives, and we can meld the two together.
So again I just want to say I had to come down because I love Georgetown. It was so good for my son, it’s time for me to give back for what this college has done for my son.
So I ask you, don’t let this incident deprive Georgetown of where it really is trying to go. Let’s move forward, let’s learn from this and when we do that, Georgetown will be a much better college. Any questions you may have, I’ll be around. Any questions you may have about how we operate as a board of trustees, I’ll be around to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.
Thank you, and thank you all for coming. We’re done.