In light of the recently reported racial incidents on our campus, we want to be clear that the University of Utah’s senior leadership team will not tolerate racist or hateful behavior in our community. We have said in the past and will say again, racist and biased behavior at this university is an offense to our entire campus community, particularly our communities of color. These actions will be called out for what they are—behaviors rooted in hate. We will continue to monitor these incidents and will hold identified perpetrators accountable.
We regret that our process for addressing racist and biased incidents on our campus did not work as we would want it to and accept responsibility for this shortcoming. Here is how the process is supposed to work: The Racist & Bias Incident Response Team (RBIRT) was created in late 2019 to develop a coordinated response to racist and hateful incidents on campus. The committee members depend on the knowledge, infrastructure, and people already in place on our campus. The process is not perfect, but it is deliberative and transparent, and we are committed to making it better. We acknowledge that we need to improve our internal communication and review processes to raise awareness of RBIRT so that we can be more open and timelier in our communication about hateful incidents as they happen on our campus.
We also are committed to doing more than communicating. Vice presidents Mary Ann Villarreal and Lori McDonald are working immediately to evaluate internal processes, create actionable next steps, improve education and training, and identify recommendations for making meaningful change. Some of these steps will include:
- Conducting a comprehensive audit of racist and biased incidents reported over the past year from Housing & Residential Education (HRE) and across campus.
- Reviewing the analysis, response and communication for each incident.
- Releasing an audit report by March 2022 and implementing any recommended changes or additions to our process for addressing racist and hateful incidents.
- Engaging and amplifying the essential work of our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion division; grassroots support and advisory groups; and our larger community in the shared responsibility of this effort across campus.
While we work to review our processes, we ask our university community to report racist or hateful behavior to the RBIRT so we can take immediate action to address these incidents and work to create a more inclusive culture at the U. If you have been impacted by racist or biased acts, the university has support staff and resources to help.
Be certain that we will continue to work as a campus community to make the necessary changes to guarantee our communities of color, and our Black community members in particular, feel safe across campus and especially in their living spaces. We aspire to live by the standards of our Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, that we all have the right to live free of discrimination, harassment, and prejudicial treatment.
Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Senior Vice President for Health Sciences