Acknowledging our Past
Many colleges and universities across the country have audited or are in the process of auditing the content of their yearbooks in order to be transparent about images and language that are inappropriate and offensive. Appalachian staff members began this process in early February and completed it late last week.
Our yearbook, The Rhododendron, was published by members of the senior class almost every year from 1922 to 2006.
As early as 1930, the yearbook contains racist images and photos of students wearing blackface as late as 1985. No instances of anyone in Ku Klux Klan costumes were found.
The cultural appropriation and blatant prejudice and insensitivity displayed in these instances are hurtful and offensive. They will remain as historical documents — not reflective of our values, but reminders to be vigilant in our efforts to be both inclusive and transparent. We have added language to our yearbook website to be clear on this point.
This examination of our history, both our shortcomings and our accomplishments, will inform our path forward. We will continue to develop and allocate resources to build and sustain a diverse campus culture, and we will be diligent in our efforts to understand, respect and accept a broad spectrum of cultures and viewpoints.
Sheri Everts, Chancellor