University of Northern Colorado trustees show support for President Kay Norton in wake of protest
November 17, 2016
Members of the University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees on Thursday reiterated support for UNC President Kay Norton in the wake of a student protest Wednesday demanding her resignation.
About 50 UNC students marched around campus Wednesday afternoon, chanting "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Kay Norton has got to go," many holding signs related to diversity and to alleged racist, verbal attacks students have suffered in the past few weeks.
UNC trustees Kevin Ahern and Paul Washington both said they support Norton's leadership, although both said they understand protesters.
"It's a natural reaction to look at the top, which, in this case, is President Kay Norton," Ahern said Thursday before a board work session.
Norton, too, reiterated students' right to protest, saying it comes in the wake of a divisive election campaign.
"We remain committed to engaging with all of the students on campus," Norton said.
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Students were first angered when Donald Trump visited campus Oct. 31, as they expressed concerns both with the then-Republican presidential candidate's message and with what they saw as hostile actions from his supporters on campus.
After a dozen students visited Norton the following Monday, coming unannounced to her office, Norton sent a note to campus. Neither that note, nor a video message Nov. 11 related to racist, verbal attacks students reported after Trump was elected, were received well by all students.
Norton has led listening sessions to address "campus climate," and has made changes, including paving the Cesar Chavez Center parking lot and bringing in a campus salon operator capable of serving all students. Last year, she launched a two-year campus climate initiative, complete with a campuswide survey aimed at addressing other problems. Lack of student participation on the survey forced administrators to keep it open longer than initially planned though.
When asked if Norton could have done, or could do, more, Washington said there's always the opportunity for more communication.
"But I think Kay has been proactive and engaged," Washington said.
Ahern agreed, saying Norton has worked hard to create a university that's welcoming and open while still encouraging discourse and dialogue.
"That's what universities are about," Ahern said.
Tyler Silvy covers education for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at email@example.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.