SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Students at the University of Illinois Springfield held an anti-racism rally Thursday evening after an image of university employees surfaced online that students said is racist.
The image was of two university employees in Halloween costumes. One employee was dressed in a Border Patrol costume, while the other was dressed as a caricature of a Mexican man.
"I was completely astounded,” said student Aislinn Diaz. “I have always felt so safe on this campus and I've always felt so accepted, and this was the first time I didn't."
The school’s student government association responded by holding the anti-racism rally on campus.
“Once it became public, and everybody knew about it, SGA just couldn't stand with racism,” said student Max Pernitsky.
"When we have issues that really deeply affect our students, as far as their being welcomed here, it's a problem for us,” added student Collin Moseley.
The students’ message is straightforward: they said UIS is not a racist school, and is a welcome, safe atmosphere for people of all races and ethnicities.
"We welcome all students from anywhere to come to this university,” Moseley said.
"I want everybody to feel the inclusivity that I felt when I first came to this campus,” Diaz said.
"It shows that UIS won't stand for this,” said Pernitsky. “It shows that students won't stand for this, and it shows that the employees that came out as well, that they will not stand for racism on our campus."
\“Any behavior on the part of a member of our university community that makes others feel unsafe or unwelcome at UIS is concerning to me," said UIS Chancellor Susan Koch in a statement.
She also said the matter is being reviewed, and the school diversity’s training will be expanded.