U of U Police investigating alleged racist incidents on campus

Photo: University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 21, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — University of Utah Police are investigating reports of alleged racist incidents on campus.

A statement from the U says: “On the evening of Dec. 19, 2021, the University of Utah Racist and Bias Incident Response Team became aware, through an Instagram post, of a potential racist incident in an on-campus residence hall. The Instagram post stated, ‘University of Utah Students walked through residence halls in KKK uniforms & smeared poop on a Black student’s door.’ Based on information gathered by Housing and Residential Education, there were two separate reports of incidents, occurring approximately a month apart, which may be those referred to in the post — both incidents are being reviewed, and at this time, they do not appear to be linked.”

On Sept. 1, 2021, a resident reported that they found a paper towel with a brown substance on their door handle.

A month later, on Oct. 2, 2021, a Resident Assistant in the same residence hall reported that they overheard some students in an elevator saying that there were people in “white KKK-like attire who were trying to recruit people,” the statement says.

After the first incident was reported, HRE was unable to determine who may have left the paper towel on the resident’s door handle and worked to support the resident who wished to be relocated, the statement says. After the second incident was reported, HRE staff reviewed video footage from the three-day period surrounding the report and spoke to the reporting party and desk staff in the residence hall, but were unable to corroborate details of the event or identify anyone who may have been involved.

Both incidents were reported to University Police on Dec. 19, and the agency is now actively investigating the issue.

“In early spring semester, the vice presidents of Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion will be thoroughly reviewing internal processes to determine what actions are needed to address these issues and improve systems moving forward,” the statement says.

If you have any information about either of these incidents, you are asked to report it to HRE staff  at 801-587-2002 or University Police at 801-585-2677.

The statement adds: “The U condemns hate and is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion. Acts like this, perpetrated within residence halls — which should be spaces of sanctuary and safety — strike fear and frustration in our students and community members when they are already feeling vulnerable. This is the third incident reported in as many weeks, and we understand that the community, especially our Black students, are feeling exhausted, targeted, and disconnected but we must remain vigilant in striving to ensure that all our staff, students, and faculty are able to find a place of safety and belonging as a part of our campus community.

“The university strongly condemns the KKK and white supremacy, as the values held by these groups are contradictory to a sense of safety and belonging for our community. We will continue to name racist acts, investigate, and hold the perpetrators of these hateful acts accountable when they are identified. Additionally, we will proactively implement efforts that uplift and celebrate our communities as we witness an increasing number of racist acts on our campuses across the nation. This is the time to draw together and call out these acts when we see them.”

On Nov. 24, Gephardt Daily reported that a university contractor was making a delivery to the loading dock at a residence hall on campus in late September 2021 when two students in a room above the dock are alleged to have “shouted the N-word and threw sunflower seeds and coffee pods out the window at the individual below,” said a statement from the U.

The incident was immediately reported to university officials, who were able to identify the individuals responsible and hold them accountable through the conduct process, the statement said. “The victim was connected with university resources and reported the incident to University Police in November,” the statement said. “Police are currently investigating the incident as a hate crime (intimidation motivated by bias).”

Racist behavior on the U of U campus can be reported to the Racist and Bias Incident Response team here, and a list of support and resources are available here.


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