Last week at Colorado State University, two young Native American brothers from Española were stopped and questioned by university police while attending a campus tour as a result of a call made by a suspicious parent.
As the largest Native American scholarship provider in the nation and with 50 years of that legacy, we at the American Indian Graduate Center are deeply saddened and disappointed that this incident occurred. We extend our full support to the young men and their mother, and genuinely hope that they are receiving the appropriate remedy for their hardship.
An incident such as this is not isolated. It is a direct reflection of the racism and discrimination experienced by Native American students and other students of color every day on campuses across the United States. Every day, our young Black and Brown scholars are questioned, doubted and threatened simply for their racial and ethnic backgrounds.
It is a frustrating reality that college campuses – where we send our children to live what are supposed to be the best years of their lives – are far from immune to the difficulties and trauma of racism.
As a resource for Native scholars, we want to communicate that Native students should not be subjected to higher scrutiny and suspicion for the simple act of existing. We want to challenge colleges across the country to consider how all of their policies affect students of color.
Too often, racist views and actions – like the call that pointed out two innocent Native men on that campus tour – do not face repercussions and consequences, while the affected parties must deal with the trauma and humiliation caused by such incidents.
We hope that Colorado State University will take the lead in making sure that Native students are never again subjected to such a blatant disregard for their rights.
The American Indian Graduate Center takes seriously its role as a partner to Native students. We stand committed to pursuing equality in access and opportunity for our scholars across the nation.
As we support our Native youth going into college, we hope that universities will work with us in ensuring the safety and well-being of our students.
We have provided $2 million in scholarships for students at Colorado State University alone and this incident leads us to ask – are schools doing all that is necessary to protect and affirm Native students, or are they merely accepting their tuition dollars?
The American Indian Graduate Center, the largest Native American scholarship provider in the nation, is based in Albuquerque.
Do schools affirm Native students, or just accept their tuition money?