Students and Colleagues:
This afternoon a banner from an organization that espouses white supremacy was posted on the George S. Eccles Legacy Bridge. Earlier in the week, several stickers from a different hate group were also found on campus. The Anti-Defamation League describes both of these groups as white supremacist organizations focused on the preservation of white American culture and promoting white European identity.
Let me be clear, while our campus is an open forum where individuals may express their views, the rhetoric used by these groups does not align with or reflect the University of Utah’s values. These cowardly, faceless and non-university sanctioned tactics are designed to disrupt and frighten individuals and communities, and to garner attention for an insidious ideology that has no place on our campus or in our community.
Last week our campus celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and we were reminded of the importance of a collective voice against racism, bigotry and hate. At the University of Utah, we value free speech and the diversity of ideas, but we also have an ethical obligation to call out hateful speech when we see it.
I have directed our facilities personnel, law enforcement and student affairs staff to remove these postings immediately when they are discovered and have asked the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Equity and Diversity to help the campus respond to and monitor these types of actions.
I encourage all of us to engage in respectful dialogue that will enable us to work together to learn, grow, innovate, challenge and build a better future.
President Ruth V. Watkins