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In Forum, Iowa State University Addresses Bigotry After Trump Supporters Harass Immigrant & Latino Students

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Iowa State University is the largest university in Rep. Steve King’s district, and compared to the rest of his district, ISU is a pretty diverse place.

But Steve King doesn’t like diversity.

At a town hall meeting back in 2012, King explained his concern with Iowa State University’s multicultural groups, saying these groups are for people “who feel sorry for themselves.

King said he is also worried about impressionable students being “brought into a group that have a grievance against society.”

Here’s what Steve King said about ISU’s multicultural groups back in 2012:

I went to the Iowa State website and […] I typed in “multicultural” and it came back to me, at the time, 59 different multicultural groups listed to operate on campus at Iowa State. It started with Asians and it ended with Zeitgeist, so from A to Z, and most of them were victims’ groups, victimology, people that feel sorry for themselves and they’re out there recruiting our young people to be part of the group that feels sorry for themselves. […]

As far as I can tell, ISU never responded to King’s comments or defended their multicultural groups against his attacks.

But it’s not just Steve King that has a problem with diversity at ISU. As seen recently when a Trump supporter ripped a protest sign with a Martin Luther King quote during a silent demonstration at a Iowa Caucus event, King’s anti-multicultural comments seem to reflect an attitude of intolerance held by at least some in NW Iowa.

Students Against Bigotry, a grassroots group lead by students at ISU are trying to change this culture.

A Trump supporter tears Jovani Rubio's sign displaying a Martin Luther King Quote outside a Trump appearance on ISU's campus.
A Trump supporter tears Jovani Rubio’s sign displaying a Martin Luther King Quote outside a Trump appearance on ISU’s campus. Photo taken from YouTube.com

SAB organized a forum last night and invited members of the Iowa State and Ames community. ISU President Steven Leath, Vice President of Student Affairs Tom Hill, Dean of Students Pamela Anthony, and 600 community members attended.

The public event was demanded by multicultural students at Iowa State University after the incidents that took place outside Jack Trice Stadium on September 12th, 2015, where a group of student protesters were attacked and harassed by Trump supporters.

Unlike King’s comments in 2012, ISU students refused to let their administration sit on the sidelines this time.

Maria Alcivar, a lead organizer with Students Against Bigotry, released this statement after the event:

“We wanted a space for President Leath and administration to listen to students of color who, besides the CyHawk tailgate, have been living in Iowa State campus in fear and constant discrimination based on racism and bigotry. I was very happy with the amount of people that showed up. I’m also happy with President Leath’s commitment to action. We will hold him and his administration accountable and we will continue to pressure for action”.

The student panel cited the many instances in which the university has failed to provide adequate support for minority students paired with suggestions for ways in which the administration could reduce the gaps.

Monica Diaz, a Senior in civil engineering from Chicago, was a key activist for this student-led movement. As she shared her narrative, grievances and propositions, she said:

“In an ideal world we would all feel free and empowered to express ourselves and our culture but as we’ve all heard here today, we don’t live in that world. We therefore strongly urge the administration to prioritize the creation of an adequate space wherein which we Latinos, the largest minority on campus, feel comfortable”.  

Iowans across the state have witnessed the #TrumpEffect firsthand after Trump mocked and kicked Jorge Ramos out of a Dubuque event. Outside the event a Trump supporter is seen telling Ramos — a US citizen and leading US journalist — to “get out” of his country.

Weeks later Gov. Jeb Bush told a voter at an Iowa diner that multiculturalism was the “wrong approach” for America.

To see a map of Trump and his supporters harassing immigrants and Latinos in Iowa and across the country, visit AmericasVoice.org/TrumpHateMap.