Statement on racial incidents at the University of Virginia from University President John T. Casteen III
August 29, 2005 --
Late last week and continuing into the weekend, the Division of Student Affairs and the University and local police received and investigated a remarkable series of complaints about racial insults directed toward University students. On Saturday afternoon, a public meeting called by University students to protest these abuses was held at the Rotunda.
These troubling incidents -- which thus far have been affirmed by investigations -- share common characteristics: all have been vicious, deliberate, and secretive efforts to insult and abuse members of this community for the color of their skin.
The perpetrators -- whether students or non-students, on Grounds or off -- who lurk outside a student's room to write the words ìNigger/I hate Jesusî on a note board or who shouts racial abuse from a passing vehicle do nothing to advance truth or knowledge and communicate nothing other than her or his desperate lack of fit in our community. In fact, she/he threatens the very freedom -- to seek truth freely and without interference -- that makes universities thrive. And abuse of this kind goes further: it attempts in unsubtle ways to take away the freedom to belong that every member of the University by right owns.
The writer of the spiteful words and the passing motorist who shouts an insult have no place in a community built on mutual trust and respect.
I encourage all students, staff and faculty to join me in expressing outrage at these events. And I ask each of you to report immediately any bias incident to University Police and to Student Affairs, and to offer quick and strong support for those who have been victimized.
Student leaders merit commendation for taking a public stand against these racial abuses. Their actions and their words of support and comfort for the victims is a reflection of how our community should work to counter such senseless attacks. All of us belong here, all deserve to live in circumstances that sustain academic and personal success, and no one deserves to be abused and insulted as many of our sisters and brothers were this weekend.
Contact: Carol Wood, (434) 924-1400