University completes inquiry on anti-Semitic Valentine's Day Card
University officials say the woman responsible for creating an anti-Semitic Valentine's Day card was not a Central Michigan University student as of Feb. 8, 2017 and has since left Mount Pleasant.
The Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equality at Central Michigan University concluded its inquiry into the matter on Friday, Feb. 10, according to a University Communications press release.
The inquiry ended two days after a Valentine's Day party by the College Republicans at CMU led to the anti-Semitic card being distributed to two students — causing outrage from the community and national media attention. The card was signed "XOXO, Courtney."
Katherine Lasher, director of OCRIE, said "her staff has talked with the individuals involved and determined the card was the misguided action of one individual, who readily admitted her role," the release states.
The university repeatedly stated that the woman is “not a CMU student.” Many students, faculty and alumni have questioned that phrasing on social media. Some claim the women in question was participating in CMU College Republicans functions and leading other extracurricular student groups at the time of the controversy.
Kirsten Simmons, assistant director of University Communications, said she did not know if this person was a CMU student in the past. She cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) restrictions when Central Michigan Life reporters asked for more detailed information.
In the statement, University President George Ross attempted to comfort the campus community with an apology to students and members of the Jewish faith and descent.
“The grossly offensive action of one individual, a nonstudent, has deeply distressed our campus community and others across the nation,” Ross said in the statement. “With heavy hearts and great embarrassment, we apologize. To those of Jewish descent, rest assured that we stand with you and vow to continue the effort to educate others."
The release also confirms that Lasher spoke to leaders of the College Republicans and determined the group was unaware that the card had been distributed at the meeting. Damon Brown, director of the Office of Student Activities and Involvement, said group members are "shocked and remorseful."
The release stated several actions taken thus far and next steps that will be taken.
- CMU Police have consulted with the county prosecutor, who said this matter is not a criminal act.
- The Office of Student Activities and Involvement will engage with student organizations, continuing to educate them on why such behavior is unacceptable and reinforcing the need to uphold CMU values such as inclusivity and respect.
- The Office of Institutional Diversity is planning related educational programming.
- OCRIE will offer to have an educational session with the College Republicans and offer workshops, in partnership with Institutional Diversity staff, to other student organizations as well.
“The journey toward diversity, inclusivity, respect, peace, integrity and ethical leadership at times seems endless,” Ross said. “Yet, the actions of our students, faculty and staff through this — coming together against hate and ignorance — can give us all hope. With varied political opinions and life views, we stand today in solidarity. In that, we embrace our future.”
Central Michigan Life has sent a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the contents of the inquiry.