Two Racist Incidents Reported in Beginning of U’s Fall 2022 Semester


Jake Stranzl

University of Utah Campus in Salt Lake on Oct. 11, 2020. (Photo by Jake Stranzl | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer


Nearly a week before the start of the University of Utah’s Fall 2022 Semester, a white male completing a delivery on campus threatened and verbally attacked a Black professor with racial slurs while he was waiting for public transportation. On the weekend after the first week of classes, a resident of campus housing reported another student for saying sexual things to female residents and yelling a racial slur. 

Earlier this year, the Black Cultural Center was targeted by a bomb threat when a crisis center in California received a call from a 17-year-old boy who “claimed to have planted bombs at several buildings at colleges and universities around the country, including the BCC.” Other incidents of bias and their statuses can be found on the One U Thriving websitewith guidance from the U to “be vigilant and speak up.”

Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Martell Teasley, Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Mary Ann Villarreal, Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald and Chief Safety Officer Keith Squires released a joint statement about the two incidents in August on Sept. 2.

“Until members of our Black community can work, and study, and live at the University of Utah without the threat of outsiders or insiders assaulting them with words and actions, it will remain unacceptable,” the statement read.   

The statement also included different policy changes that have been made in response to similar incidents — they strengthened their code of conduct, escalated student consequences for prejudice and bias-motivated behaviors and increased awareness about the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team through marketing campaigns.

“We updated our changes to ensure that the use of racial epithets will not be tolerated,” Teasley said. “We want it to be known that microaggressions and racial epithets would not be tolerated. So that was much more defined in our student code of conduct.”

Teasley said the individual who was threatened by the delivery person was stricken and afraid. The incident has now been labeled a hate crime.

“[This] actually lends itself to other people who may be afraid of such activities on campus, which is why we released a statement and basically stated that … such incidents will not be tolerated and we will promote a safe campus as possible for our students, faculty and staff,” Teasley said.

According to Teasley, the U wanted to be as transparent as possible as soon as possible with the community.

“I can assure you that the university will continue its investigation process and take appropriate action,” Teasley said. 

For the campus community, and specifically students and faculty of color, Teasley wants to assure them that the U will do its best to create safe environments for students to go to class and engage in activities without being threatened.

“If such activities happen, we will take swift and immediate action to cease and desist such action, and maybe even remove such individuals from campus who are perpetrating such activities,” Teasley said.  

In the specific description of the Aug. 16 hate crime, the U stated their commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, saying this incident “is rooted in the hateful act of striking fear among our community members.”

“These targeted acts leave our Black students, staff and faculty feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, and continuously on edge,” the description read. “While we work to ensure that they can find a place of safety and belonging as a part of our campus community, we know that is not enough.”

In the description for the Aug. 28 incident, bystander intervention was noted as a way to combat such harm.

The statement  made by U leadership highlighted that while the U is launching investigations and working with law enforcement to pursue penalties against perpetrators, “it falls to each of us to rebuild the lost support, security and sense of belonging that comes each time these incidents occur.”

“We affirm that the U community includes the Black community and other impacted communities, and we will continue to work to strengthen the protective power of inclusion, acceptance and appreciation within our collective until each of us feels welcome, whether we are professors, students, health care workers or others,” the statement concluded.

Individuals can report an incident involving racism and/or bias via this public form.


[email protected]