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KSU Pledges Action to Protect Black Students During March for Unity

a photo of Kent Police Chief Nick Shearer at "The Rock."
City of Kent Police Chief Nick Shearer talks to the crowd at "The Rock" after the March for Unity. Shearer has been on the for job 12 weeks and says some of his planned outreach efforts have been delayed by the pandemic.

Kent State plans to install security cameras and additional lighting at "The Rock" this week to try to prevent future attempts to paint racist messages on it.

University President Todd Diacon joined members of Black United Students and Alphi Phi Alpha fraternity at a march for unity Monday, which started at the student center, stopped at the university police department, and ended at "The Rock."

Diacon, who was a history professor, says he’s committed to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and Black students on the Kent campus.

“It’s all about "The Rock," but it’s all about much more, right?" he said. "We say and we mean that we want to honor a diversity of opinions and diversity of identities. But when we have painted on "The Rock" that Blacks have no home here, well, that belies our best efforts and our best beliefs.”

Diacon said he felt despair about the racist words at first, but BUS has shown ways it can work to address the issues by revising the student code of conduct, denouncing hate speech on the university website, and providing more escorts to keep students safe on campus.

KSU president Todd Diacon describes some of the steps the university will take to address racism.

“We’ll do a security review with students walking with the police to understand their concerns. We will look at implementing new efforts to enhance cultural competency training for our faculty, staff and new hires," he said. "These are just a few of a dozen actions that we’ll be taking in the next weeks and months.”

Diacon hopes the steps being taken will prevent the need for fencing around the rock or removal of the landmark that's been on campus since the 1930s.  

He outlined the steps being taken in a letter to the university community. 

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.