IUPUI -- it's all about the perception of racism

Dateline: Tue 11 Mar 2008

Buddy Pete Miesel has forwarded the form letter being sent out by an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis spokesman re: the big, bad, non-existent Klan scare on campus, a story that has gone national.

To recap: communications student/custodian Keith Sampson, in his 50s, was on a work break and chose to spend his time reading a public library book, "Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan." The book is about an incident that took place in 1924 in South Bend, when Notre Dame students took offense and action about the Klan mobilizing in their town.

Sampson's reading material offended his union stop steward. Later a co-worker weighed in with similar indignation. Complaints were filed, and Sampson was brought before the affirmative action police at the university.

Regarding the form letter the university is sending out, Miesel says: "Notice the slippery phrasing in the second to last paragraph. It doesn't matter what the book was actually about, only that the act of reading it was 'perceived' to be hostile. Notice nowhere in there is the notion of an apology to Mr. Sampson even broached."

Here's the letter, from long-ago News reporter Rich Schneider, who himself handles communications at IUPUI:


"From: Schneider, Richard C. [mailto:rcschnei@iupui.edu]

Sent: Monday, March 10, 2008 1:30 PM

To: pmiesel@wilanddirect.com

Subject: FW: Keith John Sampson

"Thanks for your message concerning Mr. Sampson. Hope this clarifies what's happened.

"The office of Affirmative Action at IUPUI investigated a claim of a hostile work environment filed by a co-worker of Mr. Sampson, who is an employee as well as a student at IUPUI.

"Investigation of claims of uncivil behavior, discrimination or sexual

harassment in the workplace are taken very seriously and investigated by the Office of Affirmative Action at IUPUI.

"Position of the Office of Affirmative Action:

"*Mr. Sampson is free to read whatever book he wishes to during

work breaks or other appropriate times at work.

"*Co-workers requesting the investigation perceived that Mr.

Sampson was engaged in conduct for the purpose of creating a hostile

atmosphere of antagonism.

"*Mr. Sampson believes that he should be permitted to read whatever

book he chooses, whether or not the subject matter is of concern to his


"The Office of Affirmative Action was unable to draw any final conclusion concerning what was intended by the conduct of Mr. Sampson. Because there was no final conclusion, no adverse disciplinary action has been or will be taken in connection with the circumstances at hand.

"A letter sent to Mr. Sampson by the Office of Affirmative Action in November 2007 referred to a book Mr. Sampson brought with him to read during work breaks, 'Notre Dame vs the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Klux Klux Klan.' Regrettably, that has focused attention on the book he was reading, rather than the conduct of Mr. Sampson which his co-workers believed to be deliberately hostile.

"A second letter was sent to Mr. Sampson in February 2008 withdrawing the first letter. It sets forth the position of the Office of Affirmative Action that is cited above.

Rich Schneider

IUPUI Media Relations Director




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