In late September, two Native American women enrolled at Sheridan College were the target of multiple incidents of racist hate speech. Thursday, Sheridan College President Paul Young announced an action plan to address inclusion and safety for all students on campus.
Young said shortly after the incidents, he had a conversation with Fremont County Representative Lloyd Larson, who wanted to know how often this happens. Young, who has been at Sheridan College for seven years, told Larson that nothing like this had ever happened. But he said, “Later that evening I realized the fact that I wasn’t aware of it didn’t mean it never happened. These things have been happening."
Young added, “As a matter of fact, if you study this, one of the reasons participation rates for Native American students are so low and completion rates are so low is precisely because this kind of thing is a repetition of that historic trust breaking that we see so often.”
KayLee Weeden -- president of the Sheridan College Student Government Association -- is proud of the administration’s transparent approach to this issue. She said the deeper work the college is doing to change pervasive discriminatory attitudes is necessary.
“It does still happen,” Weeden said. “We might not see it, but it happened this time and we did see it. Which is super good because now we can focus on it.”
The incidents are under investigation, but the work isn’t stopping there. The plan announced by President Young to create a more inclusive and supportive environment at Sheridan College includes collaboration with tribal leaders as well as the creation of a multicultural center on campus.