29 March 2018 | Walla Walla University administrators met on March 27 to discuss allegations that a small group of the school’s students had distributed pictures of themselves in blackface on social media.
A statement on the institution’s website responding to the alleged incident said that Walla Walla University “condemns racism and takes seriously its mission to value all people and to provide safety and security on our campuses.” It vowed that the situation would be “thoroughly investigated by the Student Conduct Board, which will determine appropriate sanctions.”
Listening sessions designed to air concerns about what took place will be held on campus in response to what the school described as “hurt and anger felt by many in our campus communities and beyond.” They will begin as students return from Spring Break on Monday, April 2.
Walla Walla is also offering other resources including counseling and spiritual support to students.
The university’s Donald Blake Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Culture is, according to the statement, “considering opportunities to engage and support students in conversation,” while the school’s administration is “planning other opportunities to educate and remind our campus community about our values and the impact of how we treat one another.”
Walla Walla University has a large caucasian majority which, according to college data site College Factual, constitutes 69% of the student population. College Factual said that Walla Walla ranks #1,303 in ethnic diversity nationwide for college campuses and that its ethnic composition is fairly similar to the national average.
The statement about the alleged racist incident said that the school’s administration “recognizes the imbalance of diversity on our campuses and for many years has worked carefully to promote diversity and inclusion.”
It lists various efforts aimed at encouraging diversity including leadership by the school’s Office of Diversity, the assistant to the president for diversity, a Diversity Counci and committees to promote diversity-related events and activities.
The statement also stressed the presence of employee and student clubs that promote diversity, the Donald Blake Center, the Center for Educational Equity and Diversity, the Associated Students of Walla Walla University Inclusive Committee, and culturally diverse worship ministries.
The statement acknowledged that the recent incident “has the potential to undo our diligent work to promote diversity and inclusion” and stressed that the institution was determined to not let that take place.
Walla Walla University’s main campus is in College Place, Washington. The school enrolled 1,825 students in 2017. Walla Walla was founded in 1892. It is an Adventist institution.