As campus has come alive this fall with the start of a new school year, we are mindful of our calling to ensure that this university is a safe place for all. Recently, two racially-motivated incidents, including one hate crime, have violated that safety. During the first week of school, a professor was threatened and verbally attacked with racial slurs while waiting for public transportation and during the second week of school, a student yelled racial slurs and derogatory words while in campus housing.
This is unacceptable.
Until members of our Black community can work, and study, and live at the University of Utah without the threat of outsiders or insiders assaulting them with words and actions, it will remain unacceptable. This behavior will not be tolerated.
In the last year, four additional incidents at the U involved racially-motivated acts of hate specifically aimed at Black individuals or the Black community at large. They are not alone. Other groups have also been targeted, including the LGBTQIA+, Latinx and Jewish communities. In each case, the U has launched investigations, worked with law enforcement, and pursued the full extent of penalties against the perpetrators wherever possible. It falls to each of us to rebuild the lost support, security and sense of belonging that comes each time these incidents occur.
The U has made changes to several of its policies to bolster our response to these incidents, and we are committed to pursuing further solutions. Changes thus far include:
- Strengthening code of conduct expectations for visitors and fans
- Escalating student consequences for prejudice and bias motivated behaviors
- Building awareness through marketing campaigns to increase knowledge of how to report incidents to the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team
We affirm that the U community includes the Black community and other impacted communities, and we will continue to work to strengthen the protective power of inclusion, acceptance and appreciation within our collective until each of us feels welcome, whether we are professors, students, health care workers or others.
Martell Teasley, Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Mary Ann Villarreal, Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Lori McDonald, Vice President for Student Affairs
Keith Squires, Chief Safety Officer