"Beyond talking:" Second March of Emporia held at ESU

A peaceful crowd gathered at the center of Emporia State University Tuesday for the second March on Emporia.

This march comes as ESU professor Dr. Melvin Hale has filed a federal lawsuit against the university following racial issues over the past few months. In the lawsuit, Hale alleges the university's findings damaged his reputation. Hale tells KVOE News he's reached out to current Interim President Dr. Jackie Vietti to no avail.

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The university has stated that it will not comment on pending litigation. The Hales have also filed a claim with the Kansas Human Rights Commission about ESU in general and the SLIM department specifically.

University of Missouri graduate student Danielle Walker was the activist guest speaker for the march. She says she appreciated the opportunity to come to ESU in support of the Hales, and that talking isn't enough anymore.

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Issues of racial equity came to light in early April after a racial epithet was found on a notebook. The Hales say SLIM dean Gwen Alexander failed to make good on a promise to investigate the matter and instead made their work environment unpleasant. They also say the university didn't take their complaints seriously.

Alexander is set to retire at the end of the current school year. The university ruled last month there was no evidence of racial discrimination or a hate crime. A meeting with noted facilitator Juan Johnson, whom was scheduled to lead discussions on diversity and inclusivity earlier this month, was cancelled according to Hale. No further meetings have been planned as of yet.