Students protest at Coe College after Black trustee resigns

Coe College entrance on August 19, 2019 (Aaron Hosman/KCRG)
Coe College entrance on August 19, 2019 (Aaron Hosman/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 12:21 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Alumni and students are protesting Coe College’s treatment of a prominent Black trustee who has resigned after criticizing the school’s recent presidential selection process as lacking in diversity.

Darryl Banks, a 1972 graduate who had served on its Board of Trustees for four decades, submitted his resignation last month, weeks after the board named David Hayes as the 16th president of Coe, a private liberal arts school in Cedar Rapids.

In a resignation letter, Banks described a tense Oct. 1 board meeting in which he said he articulated “diversity and inclusions concerns” about how the presidential search committee operated on behalf of trustees of color, and was called a liar in response.

In response to the news of the protest, Coe College issued the following statement:

“We are aware of an on-campus protest today at 3 p.m. that will call attention to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) issues at Coe College. Our college values the voices of our community, and we support the right to peacefully urge more discussion and action about priority issues. Together, we share a love for Coe College and the goal of advancing DEI initiatives – a common ground in which we hear all viewpoints as we further develop and execute our DEI plans.

A key initiative we are committing to today is identifying a full-time senior leader who will report to the President, and who will direct, advance, and represent DEI initiatives of Coe College. We have begun to receive financial gifts to support that effort, and we are eager to work together with key stakeholders to make the position one that serves Coe well now and into the future.

This is just one piece of strategic, collaborative efforts to move us forward – together. While it will take time, we are optimistic that our campus community will give us the grace and support necessary to listen, think critically and take actions that make Coe College a place everyone can be proud to call their home, where all people feel welcome and supported.”

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