27, 2003 — More than 700 students packed the Newcomb Hall
ballroom Wednesday evening for community reflection and discussion
following a reported early-morning assault on a student.
University community was stunned Wednesday following a report that
Daisy Lundy, a candidate for Student
Council president, was attacked in Poe Alley by an assailant
who allegedly used a racial slur in reference to the hotly contested
election. The election has been postponed until after spring break.
are investigating the incident as a hate crime, and the University
is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest
and conviction. Yesterday that amount was doubled by officials of
the Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships
to African-American students at U.Va.
Police described the assailant as a heavy-set white male wearing
a dark coat, light pants and a dark hat.
intolerable act insults and offends this community’s core
values, including racial tolerance, civility and mutual respect,”
John T. Casteen III said in a statement
released Wednesday afternoon. “Our first obligation is
to close ranks around our students to ensure their safety and to
reassure them of the community’s protection and support.”
Newcomb Hall, many community leaders addressed a 90-minute general
session before the audience broke into smaller discussion groups.
speakers called for the University and the community to address
racism more directly. M.
Rick Turner, dean of the Office
of African-American Affairs, predicted a decline in African-American
enrollments without more black teachers and administrators.
happened last night shows a waning of commitment to the issues that
affect African-American students,” Turner said. “Something
has to happen to a culture that continues to preach racism.”
said he still is optimistic and noted that U.Va. has the highest
graduation rate of African Americans among public universities.
Mentore, associate professor in the anthropology
department, said he was offended that the attacker seemed to
be a member of the University community.
really hurts and pains the soul so badly that it cries out, is that
it looks like it was one of our own,” he said. “This
is not a rapist from the outside, someone we cannot control. This
is someone from the inside, who felt so threatened and weak that
they turned to violence.”
Rev. Alvin Edwards, pastor of the Mount Zion Baptist Church, linked
the assault to a recent blackface incident, where two males attending
a Halloween fraternity party dressed as black female athletes and
painted their faces black; a third was dressed as Uncle Sam, also
in blackface. Two fraternities were temporarily suspended following
the incident, but an investigation by the Inter Fraternity Council
determined that the offensive party-goers were within the bounds
of constitutionally protected free speech. No action was taken against
Edwards asked community members to turn in the assailant.
don’t give the perpetrators your support with silence,”
he said. “Do not let people like this divide us.”
Lovelace, a friend of Lundy’s and former student representative
on the Board of Visitors,
reminded the crowd of Christ’s admonition to be “wise
as serpents, harmless as doves.” While saying he can’t
“turn a hard heart toward another person,” Lovelace
called for critical thinking about student government, the University’s
racial history and the gender and racial makeup of the Board of
Senate Chairman Michael J. Smith, speaking after the main session,
expressed faculty outrage over the events.
the faculty is shocked and dismayed and heartsick at these events,”
Smith said. “We like to think of the University as an enclave
that is free of this.”
said he believes the incident could accelerate opening dialogues
in classes about the University’s racial history. Following
last fall’s blackface incident, Casteen
requested the faculty teach the “unvarnished” truth
of race relations at the University.
student Jennifer Goldson said she wants to see more concrete actions.
She said after the session that the University called the meeting
“to give us a pat on the back and wipe away our tears. I don’t
want to feel better. I want change.”
Goldson said the University should expel the students involved in
blackface incidents, apprehend Lundy’s assailant and make
an example of him.
should not be a place where this sort of thing happens,” she
said after the meeting that University leaders need to be courageous
in facing racism and that they should seek solutions from the faculty.
He was angry that during the blackface controversy the administration
never consulted a faculty member who had written a book on minstrel
shows, where actors dressed in blackface were a common form of entertainment.
President for Student Affairs Patricia M. Lampkin, in a
prepared statement, called for everyone in the University community
to work together.
cannot freeze one another out or allow existing divisiveness to
grow deeper,” Lampkin said. “We must channel the anger
in constructive ways, toward the diversity work that now demands
our attention in a new way. Each of us has a responsibility to extend
a hand, to seek ways to bring our community together and bridge
the divides that we know exist.”
Rev. Lauren Cogswell, assistant pastor at Westminister Presbyterian
Church, advocated a nonviolent response to racism.
not about being nice or teaching tolerance, but it is owning the
fact that there is something that allows racism and violence to
grow,” she said. “The white community needs to take
seriously the hidden wound of racism and deal with issues of power
and wealth and privilege.”