In recent weeks, the Wake Forest campus community has been deeply affected by emails received by several members of the Departments of Sociology and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies as well as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the LGBTQ Center and the Intercultural Center. These emails espoused hateful, racist, xenophobic beliefs that have no home at Wake Forest. The messages put the campus on edge, especially after the sociology department canceled classes and armed security officers were posted outside Kirby.
The Editorial Board of the Old Gold & Black feels that campus administration was too slow to respond to the emails, leaving some students feeling as if their fears and concerns were unheard. Although the emails were received by faculty and staff on Sept. 10 and 11, students were not notified until Sept. 17. Follow-up messages were sent to the student body on Sept. 19 and Sept. 28.
While the follow-up messages acknowledged many students’ fears, we believe that the administration should have sent the message sooner. Furthermore, transparency often assuages fear, and greater openness on the part of the university would have calmed some students’ fears for their safety and reluctance to attend class.
At times, hearsay and rumors, which often misrepresent the facts of a given incident, have days to spread and mutate before any official word comes from the administration. Though we understand the necessity of crafting a message that is thorough and thoughtful, once news of an incident is being discussed across campus, it is the responsibility of university officials to provide facts and prescribe a course of action, even if such a message lacks the artful, quotable language of a more heavily reviewed statement.
However, the Editorial Board also recognizes that the duty to create a safe and welcoming home for all at Wake Forest does not rest with the administration alone. Especially during times of nervousness and anxiety, it is of great importance for students to extend a warm hand of friendship before judgment and to support each other wholeheartedly.