Wichita State investigating case of hate speech

Wichita State University (KSN File photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State officials are investigating an incident that some are saying is a case of hate speech and discriminatory behavior.

Thursday night, WSU said a disturbance happened during the Student Government Association’s annual end of year banquet.

KSN News obtained a police report filed Friday. In it, outgoing SGA President Joseph Shepard is listed as one of two victims. His mother is the other.

The report lists “battery” and “disorderly conduct – fighting words or noisy conduct to cause resentment,” as the crimes that are being investigated but does not list the names of any individuals under investigation.

Shepard tells KSN the incident happened after he gave his final address to the SGA. Since then, students have taken sides.

“I’ve always hoped to use my position to be an example and a role model to people on this campus to fight for what they believe in, to stand up for what they believe in even if they’re standing by themselves. So with that being said, I’m proud of the students standing on either side. But at some point ,I think you have to look at the facts. I think we have to hold individuals accountable.”

Wichita State University released a statement on Friday:

Wichita State University does not in any way condone or tolerate violence, discriminatory behavior or hate speech. We take all allegations of such matters extremely seriously, whether those allegations involve members of the WSU community or visitors to our campus.

Last night’s disturbance at the conclusion of the Student Government Association dinner is under investigation by the University Police Department (UPD). We regret that waiting for the investigation to conclude has been perceived by some as a lack of concern about inappropriate speech. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The next step is for the UPD to complete its investigation.

Earlier today, Teri Hall, vice president for student affairs, met with students to discuss what steps can be taken to deter incidents of discrimination in the future and to bolster our efforts to create an inclusive and tolerant campus environment. Those efforts will be broadened in weeks to come.”

One of the other people allegedly involved in the incident works for USD 259.

A district spokesperson released a statement saying quote, “We are aware of an incident that occurred last night at a WSU event. To the extent that it impacts our district, we are following district protocol and investigating.”

KSN News will continue to follow this story.

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