By Jewell Porter & Kalyn Dunkins
Editor-in-Chief and Arts & Life Editor
In recent weeks, a white truck bearing Ohio’s state flag and a Confederate battle flag has been seen in Newark and Granville.
Campus Safety first learned of the truck by Chief William Caskey of the Granville Police Department, who warned Dan Hect, chief of campus safety, that the truck had been sighted in the area in case it made its way on the hill.
This came into fruition on Friday evening when a student called Campus Safety to alert them of the truck’s location on campus.
When a dispatcher picked up the phone and heard the student’s concern, the dispatcher told the student that the Confederate flag is an issue of free speech, and there is nothing Campus Safety can do about that.
Dan Hect, chief of campus safety, explained that the dispatcher is new to the job and came from a police dispatch center before coming to work at Denison.
Chief Hect took full responsibility for the dispatcher’s actions. “I should have trained her better,” he said.
Unsatisfied with the answer given by the dispatcher, the student called Bill Fox, the Dean of Students, to explain the issue to him. Chief Hect was then contacted by Dean Fox, and he immediately sent Officer Brent Smith to survey the campus for the truck, but he was unable to find the truck on campus.
Later that evening, Chief Hect attended the weekly Black Student Union (BSU) meeting along with Officer Smith and President Weinberg to tell the general body about the events on campus as well as to answer any questions that students might have about race relations at Denison.
After returning to his office, Chief Hect found Tabitha Chester, a professor of women’s studies and black studies. He explained that there was a student who felt unsafe as a result of the Confederate flag.
Chester explained that the student came to the women’s studies and black studies department, unsure about with whom she should speak about the issue. “That says a lot about the women’s studies and black studies departments,” she said.
In Chief Hect’s office, Chester showed him a picture of the truck with the rebel flag, which Chief Hect hopes will help him find the license plate of the driver for identification purposes.
Chief Hect said that he plans to ban the driver of the truck from campus as soon as he or GPD is able to locate the license plate number. Hect said, “The benefit of a private campus is that we can do that.”
“I’m vested in this issue. Diversity is a core value,” he added.
Photo Courtesy of Tabitha Chester