U Responds to Racially Motivated Hate Crime Outside Residence Hall


Emily Rincon

Chapel Glen at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Dec. 3, 2021 (Photo by Emily Rincon | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Jack O'Leary, News Writer


On Nov. 23, University of Utah students were informed about a racist incident that occurred on campus this past September. The incident took place at a residence hall, where two students shouted racial slurs and threw sunflower seeds and coffee pods out a window at a contractor making a delivery, according to Racist & Bias Incident Response Team’s website.

In November, the victim notified the University of Utah Police Department and they began investigating the incident as a hate crime, which is classified as intimidation based on bias.

“Let me be clear, racist and hateful behavior on our campus is an offense to our entire community, particularly our communities of color,” said U President Taylor Randall in a statement to the campus community. “These actions will be called out for what they are — behaviors rooted in hate and racism.”

Randall went on to say that the U will be steadfast in working with his leadership team in creating a more equitable campus that fosters values of respect, diversity, inclusivity and belonging. Randall also encouraged students and community members to work together to achieve those values.

“We are stronger and more capable as a community when we build an environment where everyone feels welcomed, heard and accepted for who they are,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald in the same statement. “We are committed to meeting acts of hate — which compromise this culture — with actions of consequence when they violate the law or university policy.”

According to Morgan Aguilar, a U communications specialist, the incident was immediately reported by the victim to Housing and Residential Education officials, who then identified the two students and held them accountable through their own internal conduct process.

“What’s unique in this case is that the victim later decided to report it to police,” Aguilar said. “So that is when our racist and bias incident response team process was initiated, when the victim chose to do that, and part of that racist bias incident response process is to notify campus police, name the hate, you know, shed a light on it, and go through that whole process.”

Aguilar went on to say that the racist incident response team worked the way it’s supposed to work in terms of being transparent and sharing what happened with the campus community.

“I think that’s that’s exactly what we do moving forward,” Aguilar said. “It’s just naming [hate] you know, not shying away from it or ignoring it or sweeping it under the rug. That’s not at all what we want to do. We want to call [hate] out whenever this happens on our campus.”

Outgoing Black Student Union President and ASUU Vice President of Student Relations Maryan Shale expressed a need for more than just education and conversations on campus.

“Racial incidents like these are the reasons why BSU wrote the Joint Resolution [last year], because racism is still an issue on the campus,” Shale said. “We are calling on President Randall & the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to facilitate better consequences for these people who are deliberately racist.”

Shale went on to say U students of color cannot feel like they belong on a campus where their peers are allowed to show ignorance and a disregard for their race.

“We need president Randall to look into the Joint Resolution 2 and pick up where Ruth Watkins left off,” Shale said.

According to their website, the Racist & Bias Incident Response Team is currently monitoring the situation and “working with appropriate departments to monitor and prevent future reoccurrence.”


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