On June 22, 2020, the Messenger published an article detailing the resignations of Michelle Gibbs and Lisa Moore from St. Olaf. Their resignations, during the same semester, came alongside a national reckoning around race. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others outraged many Americans, leading to protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
Frustrations came to St. Olaf during the fall semester. Members of the Cultural Union for Black Expression (CUBE) called attention to the administration’s poor treatment of BIPOC faculty, students and staff during a community march planned by Oles Against Inequality (OAI), a group led by members of the St. Olaf football team that spawned in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake.
CUBE’s accusations during the march — in part planned by the College’s administration — led to discontent across campus, with posters and chalk displays denouncing President David Anderson ’74, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Bruce King and “Ole Culture” — a term used in Gibbs’ resignation letter — appearing in public spaces around campus and outside the President’s former home on St. Olaf Avenue.
While Anderson and King attempted to offer words of solidarity and verbally committed to change, the truth of St. Olaf’s treatment of its BIPOC faculty reappeared five months later when Ellen Ogihara, a former research and instruction librarian, resigned from the College on Jan. 29. In a letter to colleagues that accompanied her resignation, Ogihara cited several instances of bias and discrimination she experienced at the College.
Three days later, Anderson announced King’s forthcoming departure via an email to students. King sent his own email hours later, explaining that his leaving is due to purely personal reasons.
Continue reading for more about King’s resignation and St. Olaf’s continued work on issues of systemic racism, bias and discrimination.