I am writing in response to the article included in a recent edition of The Meredith Herald entitled “How COVID-19 Reporting Can Target Students of Color.” In addition to the quotation from me that was included in the article, I am providing additional information to address and clarify the Community Standards process for receiving and addressing suspected violations. In reviewing all of the reports that were submitted to the Office of the Dean of Students since March 2020, there is no evidence that any students were targeted or that all student violations were not addressed through our office, based on the photos that our office received. The Office of the Dean of Students neither targets nor discriminates against students of color or any other student.
As with all campus expectations and requirements, it takes the entire campus community to hold each other accountable to limit the spread of COVID. The only reports that the Community Standards Task Force review are those submitted directly to the Office of the Dean of Students that also include some type of evidence of a suspected violation, such as a photo, a direct witness account, etc. What is reported by campus community members is beyond our control. Additionally, staff do not monitor or view students’ social media accounts to gather information. When evidence — such as a group photo that includes Meredith students not wearing face coverings — is submitted to our office, we review the photo and send educational warnings to all those Meredith students identified in the photos we receive. If students are aware of other student photos in violation of Community Standards but have not reported them to our office, then unfortunately, we cannot review or address any issues in them.
Of course, the perception of bias or discrimination is always concerning. The Office of the Dean of Students will continue to investigate processes for inequity and any student claim of bias, discrimination or unfairness. We seek to be fair to all students and will continue to work hard to do so.
If students have questions or concerns about the Community Standards and the fairness of the reporting process, please contact me or a member of the Dean of Students team through the Dean of Students departmental email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Gleason, Dean of Students