KSU Pledges Action to Protect Black Students During March for Unity

Sep 14, 2020

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.

“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.