Ithaca College President Tom Rochon releases statement following reports of “overtly racist” behavior

An incredibly polarizing presidential campaign, which came to an end on Tuesday with the election of Republican Donald Trump is having it’s first impacts on life in the Finger Lakes.

Unofficial reports of ‘overtly racist behavior’ made their way to Ithaca College President Tom Rochon, who released a statement on the allegations. Specifically, those reports pointed to behavior and language following a deeply divided presidential election.

It’s unclear what this means for students, but protests broke out on Wednesday throughout the U.S. following Trump’s election. Those protests, which took place in front of Trump tower and in 29 other cities across the U.S., rang out challenging Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign.

A protest is planned at the University of Rochester to protest Trump’s election.

Ithaca College President Rochon’s full-statement can be read below:

To our campus community:

In the wake of our nation’s deeply divisive political election, I would like to remind everyone of the commitment we make to each other as members of a campus community that strives for mutual respect and an environment of inclusion.

This afternoon, I learned of unofficial reports of some overtly racist behaviors and language taking place on our campus in relation to the outcome of the political election.  Such behaviors are not tolerated at Ithaca College, and are addressed in the campus code of conduct.

The electoral campaign has been long, difficult, and polarizing. The outcome of the presidential election was surprising to many of us, including most pundits, which has heightened emotions on both sides of the partisan divide. Those emotions are no excuse for racist, harassing, or uncivil behavior. We must commit to supporting each other’s welfare, and to engaging in respectful dialogue even – or, especially – with those whose political positions are different from our own.

If you ever need to report a threat, harassment, or a bias-related incident, you may contact the Office of Public Safety at 607-274-3333, and your report will be investigated. Additional information for reporting bias-related incidents is available online.

I also want to remind everyone in the campus community of the resources available for those who feel they could use support from a counselor:  the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services for students, and the Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff.

Finally, I want to remind everyone once more of the expectations we all have of each other: That our campus community should be an inclusive place that actively fosters positive engagement based on respectful interactions. I hope that we all will take that expectation to heart.

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