Faculty write letter to President Treadwell regarding March 16 incident

Tom Benoit

Arts and Entertainment Editor

 

In response to the March 16, 2020 arrest of Keene State students Ndeye Khady Badiane and her partner Tyler Clavelle, and to KSC President Melinda Treadwell’s statements to The Keene Sentinel, on February 5, 2021, KSC faculty composed a letter to President Treadwell calling for action regarding the incident, which more than 50 faculty had signed as of February 5, 2021.

The letter, sent by the KSC Teaching Fellows, states, “We were deeply saddened, but not shocked, to read Ndeye Khady Badiane’s story… This incident shows clear evidence of racial and cisgender bias, which is not unique on this campus. We are appalled by the level of needless escalation for a minor infraction, which followed well-established white supremacist and cisnormative scripts that too often end in violence against people of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. In order to do our jobs, we require, at the bare minimum, that all of our students are safe from brutalization while on campus.”

The faculty letter proposed eight immediate actions to be carried out by President Treadwell, including, “Working with the Keene Police Department and City officials to ensure that the records of Khady Badiane and Tyler Clavelle do not reflect anything associated with this incident, and particularly ensuring that they suffer no harm in future job searches or in (Khady Badiane’s) immigration status.”

The letter also calls on President Treadwell to act on a student petition from 2019, which was made in response to a student wearing a sweatshirt stating, “You’re in America, speak English.” The 2019 petition urges KSC to require a race and gender class for first-year students including a “No Zebras” type presentation, create a campus-wide equity and injustice initiative, require staff and faculty training, and install a racism reporting system. 

The February 5, 2021 faculty letter concludes with a quote from President Treadwell’s June 1 email which states:

“Remaining silent at this time of turmoil and trauma is not an option. I am fervently committed and Keene State embraces the responsibility to engage in difficult dialogue and to fight bias and injustice. Our core values expressly state our commitment to social justice and equity […] we all must recommit to our values of justice and equity, and look to each other with compassion, kindness, understanding and support. We must dig deep into our assumptions, and unearth our own biases. Every one of us, as individuals, professionals, learners and community members, is crucial to recognizing and rejecting these destructive influences that dehumanize and marginalize people.”

The letter concludes, “Following your advice, we are speaking up as we clearly see the misalignment between this email and your quoted response to this incident,” then calls on President Treadwell to offer “substantive clarification” and “direct action” that aligns with Treadwell’s June 1 email. 

At press time, 56 KSC faculty members signed the letter indicating they “look forward to working with [Treadwell] so that together we can create a better future for Keene State College.” 

A few hours after the faculty letter was sent, President Treadwell responded to the faculty, saying, “Our College has come under criticism regarding whether we are living our stated values, supporting our students, and ensuring their safety. Based on the information that has been made public through social media channels, the outrage is understandable,” Treadwell wrote. 

Treadwell continued, “One of the events in question is the subject of a criminal prosecution against two former Keene State students. Out of respect for the integrity of the criminal process as well as the state and federal legal privacy rights of the two former students, the College cannot release information about or comment on the incident.”

Treadwell did release a bulleted list of actions she indicated she would take in response, including adding de-escalation training in Community Living (formerly known as Residential Life) and by Fall 2021, all faculty, staff, and students leaders will receive this training. To read President Treadwell’s full statement, please click here

This story is still developing. To read the full letter addressed to President Treadwell, please click here.

 

Tom Benoit can be contacted at

tbenoit@kscequinox.com

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