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Racism And Hate Discussed At 2019 State Of UNR Address

Marc Johnson mingling at the reception following his annual university speech.
Stephanie Serrano
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Marc Johnson mingling at the reception following his annual university speech.

The head of the University of Nevada, Reno says the school is accomplishing a number of growth-related goals while at the same time working to address recent incidents involving white nationalism. KUNR’s Stephanie Serrano reports.

A little more than 50 people welcomed Marc Johnson to the stage as the UNR President delivered the school’s annual State of the University address. Johnson says the university has experienced rapid growth over the last decade, increasing to 21,000 students while achieving an 18-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

However, the president was forced to address recent white supremacy propaganda found on campus, and safety concerns from students.

Johnson addressed the recent campus climate survey results, which showed that a large segment of women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community feel significantly less comfortable with the overall campus environment. Johnson says the school needs to do more to ease concerns.

“A significant portion of our students and employees do not have a sense of belonging here," Johnson said Tuesday night. "Our administration will develop programs to enhance the awareness of these issues."

Campus students, faculty and community members created an open letter denouncing hate and criticizing the administration's lack of action on recent hateful acts on campus. As of this posting, the letter has garnered over 1,000 signatures.

Johnson said as an institution, they are standing against bigotry, racism and hate.

But some in attendance want to see more diversity among faculty. Haley Summers works with the school’s student government as the coordinator for democratic engagement.

“Getting to 1-to-18 teacher-student ratio is a great achievement, but really getting in more diverse faculty, especially women and black women, to get into our faculty positions is really one of the biggest areas of need,” Summers said.

Moving forward the the university plans to continue campus expansion and community college collaborations to build path ways to four-year degrees.

As a note of disclosure the license to this station is owned by the Board of Regents to the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Stephanie Serrano (she/her/ella) is an award-winning multimedia bilingual journalist based in Reno, Nevada. Her reporting is powered by character-driven stories and is rooted in sound-rich audio. Her storytelling works to share the experiences of unserved communities in regards to education, race, affordable housing and sports.
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