Statement from LWTech's Public Information Officer

June 3, 2020 
Send to All LWTech Staff

Dear Colleagues:

As you know the college maintains an active social media presence. Currently, there are Facebook profiles circulating throughout social media that are racist and graphic, and include Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) in their profiles. For those of you who aren’t familiar with social media, a person’s profile is a way for folks to share information about themselves, and typically includes an image they choose, and information about themselves which may include where they currently go, or went to, school or work. Last night and this morning, some of those profiles were shared on our Facebook page.

LWTech is not the only college that is listed in those profiles.

In the case of the profiles that were shared with us last night and this morning, the people who posted them were not posting racist comments, they were sharing racist and graphic images they saw on social media that mentioned the college, and reported them to us, publicly though our page, and in private messages. I am incredibly thankful they took the time to do that.

I want to take this opportunity to state very clearly that LWTech does not condone any racist messages or messages of hate on our social media accounts. I believe we will see an increase in this type of activity due to the worldwide response to systemic racism and violence against black people. 

I would like to share with you the steps the Communications and Marketing team took last night and today, and what actions we’re taking, moving forward:

Evening of June 2nd:

Last night a community member notified us of a profile on social media, with racist and graphic images that listed LWTech in their profile. The person who brought it to our attention asked how we could employ a racist at the college.

We immediately investigated to determine if they are a current student or employee; they are neither. We responded to the person who shared the information to assure them the individual of concern was neither an employee nor a student, the profiles were not in line with our college values or our Community of Belonging, and thanked them for bringing this to our attention. Because the images were threatening in nature, we suggested they bring it to the attention of local law enforcement and we would do the same. I notified Anthony Bowers and asked for his help sharing the information with the Kirkland Police Department, for their review and potential action. 

Morning of June 3rd:

This morning, more people private messaged us with the same profile from last night, and another one, both with racist and graphic images. The new profile also listed LWTech. We again investigated and determined they are not a current student nor employee. As with our response last night, we immediately responded to the people who shared the information with us to assure them the individuals of concern were neither employees nor students, the profiles were not in line with our college values or our Community of Belonging, and we thanked them for bringing this to our attention. I once again reached out to Anthony Bowers to share the information with the Kirkland Police Department.

We responded publicly and privately to everyone who inquired about the racist and graphic profiles. I can’t know how many of you, our employees and students, or community members, saw these posts.

Immediate Actions:

The following is a list of immediate action steps:

  1. First thing this morning, I notified Executive Cabinet, and then convened the Bias Response Team (BRT). BRT met within 30 minutes, and have together, identified additional actions that the Communications and Marketing team will take in response to racist social media activity.
  2. All social media accounts now have a message in our profile that says, LWTech stands in solidarity with the Black community. We will not and do not condone racist or hateful messages on our social media accounts. We’ve additionally pinned this to our Facebook page, so the message remains prominent.
  3. The Communications and Marketing team will create a web page on the college website, similar to our COVID-19 response page, that will publicly communicate LWTech’s stance on racism and hate, provide resources to the college and our community, as well as document the actions we are taking as a college community to combat systemic racism. This web page will be updated regularly. If you have thoughts or resources that you would like to share on this page, please reach out to me.
  4. The Communications and Marketing team will continue to work with the members of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council, and other groups on campus including BRT, and ASG, to ensure that college messaging is inclusive.

I’m very thankful for the folks who shared these profiles with us. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for asking the questions, and sharing the information, so we can make change, and do our part to work to end systemic racism and violence against black people in our country.

If you see something that is racist or graphic on social media, please report it to us. Reporting hateful imagery in general, as opposed to staying silent, is one small way to combat systemic racism.

Thank you for looking out for each other.

Please take care,

~Leslie

Leslie Shattuck 
Public Information Officer
Communications and Marketing 
Pronouns: She/Her