March 2018, a Pacific Lutheran University poster posted on the Garretson Woodruff & Pratt poster wall was defaced with a racial profanity. Unlike similar incidents, the UW Tacoma community was not informed by the administration.
According to Associated Students of UW Tacoma President Arwa Dubad, a UWT student and member of the Black Student Union found the defaced poster in GWP on the common poster wall. They then went straight to the Center for Equity and Inclusion to report the incident and the appropriate channels of administration were contacted.
Deirdre Raynor, interim assistant chancellor of the Center, notified Dubad later on of the defaced poster and the situation at hand. When Dubad reached out to Chancellor Mark Pagano about the incident, he made clear he would only speak about the situation in person. But according to Dubad, another day went by without any further information from Pagano or the administration.
Dubad was “concerned” by the lack of public response from the administration, believing that a statement “should have been sent out immediately” to the UWT community.
According to Dubad, many other incidents similar to this have been quickly followed up by statements from the administration.
“In the case of the defaced poster, we thought few people had seen it and we did not want to give additional visibility to the incident which was most likely the intent of the person who did it,” Pagano said.
Dubad disagrees with Pagano, claiming several students saw the poster. She believes students and the UWT community deserve for the defaced poster be acknowledged by administration.
“Anything that alarms students should be sent out to the entire community,” Dubad said. “Our campus is not as big as Seattle where little minor things happen so often that emails are not necessary … we’re much smaller. If something happens in the building down there, it affects all of us.”
A week later, Dubad confronted Pagano about the lack of response to the defaced poster. According to Dubad, the chancellor claimed he did not email her about the incident because of the Open Public Meeting Act.
Dubad has still yet to receive an explanation on why a public statement was never released, but claims Pagano insinuated that the defaced poster was a minor situation.
Other offensive incidents have happened on the UWT campus this academic year. Pagano has noted that there have been stickers and posters circulated.
“It is extremely disappointing to think that one of our students may have done this,” Pagano said. “We don’t really know though if it was someone from our campus community or if someone just passing through campus may have done it.”
Dubad explained that conversations such as these are needed for a productive UWT community.
“We should not have the same problems we do now 10 years from now,” Dubad said. “I need to see different problems. Whether it’s this campus or this country, we have been having the same issues.”