Last week, the Old Gold & Black published an article entitled “Photo Sparks Conversation on Race.” The article detailed a recent incident in which an image of a student wearing a rope on his body in the campus Subway widely and quickly circulated amongst the student body on social media.
As students, we have heard the outrage from our peers, many of whom perceive the rope to have racial implications. Namely, many students believed that the rope was a noose — a symbol associated with the racist lynchings perpetrated by white supremacists and the Klu Klux Klan, a domestic terrorist organization prominent during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras.
As journalists, we worked diligently to report and investigate the incident. The Old Gold & Black editor who wrote the story found and reported in the article that there had been a Bias Incident Report filed regarding the incident. In addition, while the materials and proceedings of the review remained confidential, the conclusion of the review was disclosed to us and included in the article.
We realize that in the ongoing discussion of the incident, many students may not know that there was a Bias Incident Report filed or that there was a conclusion to the report. The report concluded that no racist intent was involved. The student was determined to be wearing a “Western-style cowboy costume.”
We understand that these results may not be satisfactory, but the fact remains that jurisprudence was conducted. Not much is transparent about the Bias Incident Report system or review process to the general student body, especially due to its confidential nature. In the past, when something of this nature and notoriety happens, there has been a general clarifying email. This was not the case for this notable incident. If the conclusion can be released to us for publication, it can and should be released more directly to the student body.
We, the Editorial Board of the Old Gold & Black, call on the Bias Incident Report group to directly disseminate the conclusion of their report to the student body in an effort to add clarity to ongoing discussions on campus.
It is certainly crucial that hard conversations and debates about race take place on the Wake Forest campus. However, those conversations should be informed by the most accurate information possible, which would also allow the Wake Forest student body to focus on the most salient issues. The best way for students to obtain such information would be if the Bias Incident Report system allowed carefully controlled access.