Honor Committee Public Statement on Recent Hate Speech

Released November 1, 2016

HONOR COMMITTEE STATEMENT ON RECENT HATE SPEECH ON GROUNDS

On the evening of October 30, an unidentified person or persons wrote an Islamophobic slur outside two students’ dorm room in Brown Residential College. This incident is deeply disturbing in and of itself. As we are painfully aware, however, this event is the most recent in a series of alarming events on Grounds: racial and transphobic chalking, racial slurs written on the walls of Kent-Dabney, slurs and death threats yelled to a student from a car, and anti-Semitic vandalism at the Grand Marc apartment complex. These actions are not mere insults. They are not simply isolated cases of ignorance. They are abhorrent attempts to marginalize members of our community and threaten their sense of belonging at the University. The Honor Committee stands with all members of our student body in condemning these acts, and we recognize the need to take action to combat racial and religious intolerance.

Trust, on its most fundamental level, must create a mutual sense of comfort and guarantee a universal right to both safety and inclusion. As members of our Community of Trust, we together must ensure that all students feel equal ownership of the space that we share. These intolerable acts of bigotry threaten the very foundation of what it means to be a University of Virginia student. Living in a Community of Trust does not simply require us to refrain from lying, cheating, or stealing. It calls on us to treat each other with respect, humanity, and basic decency. We must celebrate the strength that diversity brings to our student body—constantly pursuing empathy instead of ignorance, understanding instead of fear.

Condemning hatred is only the first step. This fracture in our Community of Trust demands constant attention and immediate action by the entire student body. We firmly believe in the need to combat ignorance by spreading awareness, and the Honor Committee will look to collaborate closely with organizations across the University to do so. As we begin this effort, we invite all students to make their voices heard at weekly Honor Committee meetings, which take place on Sundays at 8 p.m. on the fourth floor of Newcomb Hall. Additionally, we strongly encourage everyone to engage with the numerous student groups that are leading the effort to enrich individuals’ understanding of identities and experiences other than their own. For immediate support, anyone who has witnessed an act of bias can report the incident using the Just Report It system (http://www.virginia.edu/justreportit/bias/).

As your representatives, we ask you to hold us accountable as we work together to begin the process of mending our community. Actions that target some of us require a response from all of us—we must commit to creating a tradition of support, advocacy, and inclusivity. Every student deserves to feel trusted, respected, and celebrated. This must be our individual and collective mission.

Sincerely,

The Honor Committee