Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Tackling diversity in Winona

Benjamin Strand/ Winonan

The Winonan sparked controversy earlier this year with its first edition causing some to be offended by the image on its front cover.

The photo depicted the image of a silhouetted figure in a hoodie with the face darkened out. The photo was related to the story talking about assaults that occurred during welcome week.

Frederick Lee, a political science professor at Winona State University, said he was slightly offended by the photo.

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“Was I slightly offended by the photo? Yes. But, the paper has the right to publish what it wants, so I wanted to say something about it in a way that would be positive,” Lee said.

Lee wrote a letter to the editor making five points about the photo, which was published in the next week’s edition of the Winonan.

The director of inclusion and diversity at Winona State Alex Hines was very straightforward about his opinions toward the photo.

“To be honest with you, I was pissed about it,” Hines said.

Tom Grier, a mass communications professor at Winona State, said he discussed the cover photo and the controversy stemming from it in his classes.

“There were quite a few people who said they don’t feel offended by it, but could understand why some people would be.

“I have some African-American students in those classes,” Grier said, “and one of them said, ‘black people feel like a majority of society goes straight to black people when it comes to issues about race.’”

For some, race issues can stem from a lack of experience with different races, cultures and backgrounds.

Winona State business major Antwan Battles said he believes one of the biggest reasons race and discrimination is an issue still is because people lack interracial and intercultural interaction.

“A lot of people haven’t had encounters with many people of different races,” Battles said, “so they don’t know how to act around those people.”

The problem with talking about race and culture in the same context is there are subtle differences between the two, Lee said.

Lee said,“Race and culture are so intertwined, when you talk about one, you’re essentially talking about both.”

Hines said these issues go even deeper than those stories— they can be traced back to things like “the culture of hip-hop music and the Civil Rights movement.”

In light of the cover, issues with race continue to not only be a problem in society but on the Winona State campus as well.

According to campus security reports, last week there was a group of African-American students from Winona State walking back from the girl’s soccer game when a young white male shouted a racial slur toward them.

Community health major Leah Peterson said, “We were turning onto Huff Street coming back from the soccer game when a young, white male in a car drove by, rolled his window down and called us the ‘n-word.’”

Peterson, who is also the vice president of the Black Culture Organization, said she was “blown away” someone in this day and age would go out of their way to make such an obscene gesture.

Sakib Ahmed, a cell and molecular biology major at Winona State, said, “Race is a touchy issue, and that’s why I think it is so hard to talk about sometimes.”

Anacorina Velasco, a mass communications student at Winona State, does not think race should be a factor in the way we treat people.

“I just don’t think race should be treated differently, we should all be treated the same if we want to keep heading in the right direction,” Velasco said.

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