Drake University to Rally for Unity Amid Racist Incidents on Campus

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Drake University is dealing with two racist and threatening incidents on campus in less than a week. The students and staff have chosen to combat the racist incidents with a show of unity.

It started with a note. Last Wednesday the campus was alerted that a loose-leaf page with slurs and the threat to “get out, or else” had been slipped under the door of a minority student.

“I was actually sitting right there when [Public Safety Director] Scott Law brought me the note on Wednesday morning and of course [I was] disheartened, infuriated” said Drake President Marty Martin.

Martin attended a support meeting for students affected by the note on Monday night. That's when the phones started ringing. Robocalls from the white nationalist group “The Road to Power” started hitting landlines across campus.

“That meeting was widely reported yesterday through a number of media outlets, both what had happened here, the note, and the meeting was going to occur at 7 p.m., so I think it's no coincidence the robocalls started at 7 p.m.” said Martin.

The Road to Power is based in Idaho and have spread a similar message in Florida, and here in Iowa following the Mollie Tibbetts case. Students like Manasi Singh say it hit them hard.

“I was shaken up for sure. I was angry, sad, scared, just a combination of a lot of different emotions. Drake is my home away from home and it felt like we were being targeted, we were being attacked in our own home” said Singh.

Singh leads an anti-racism group on campus. Her group is holding a unity rally Wednesday.

“I think the rally itself more than anything is an act of solidarity, kind of Drake doing what it does best, us all banding together in response to not just that one incident but any incident that may happen in the future as well” she said.

In the face of racism and threats, Singh says Drake will come out stronger.

“I will never truly understand why people think that hiding behind a screen, hiding behind a phone with a robot call, is something that is brave, is something that is going to affect some kind of change. It never will, it never has. Unity, diversity, equality, these are the things that have always won out in the past and they're always going to win” said Singh.

Drake is cancelling classes from noon until 1 p.m. on Wednesday so students can attend the rally. The students are also planning a day to paint the famous painted street at Drake black in a show of solidarity.

President Martin says they've increased police patrols around campus as they investigate both incidents.