I would like to provide an update on action steps being taken on campus in response to one of our students being the victim of disgraceful acts by another student. As I have previously shared, the individual responsible is no longer a student at the University of Hartford, has been arrested by the West Hartford Police Department, and the case will proceed through the legal process. While the University is limited in our ability to legally answer many of the questions raised, we are working diligently to provide details and action steps surrounding this situation.
I continue to pledge my personal commitment to make sure the victim has all available personal and academic resources the University can provide. I am confident that the student body, the administration, and everyone here at the University will continue to support and show kindness to this member of our community. As our Student Government Association president, Bryson P. Owens ’18, put beautifully, “What inspires me about the campus community's reaction is the sight of human compassion, love, and support for a fellow student.”
The harsh reality is that racism in America is part of our reality. It is here on our campus and on campuses across the country. We are a reflection of the society at large. It is disturbing and inexcusable, and needs our constant attention and vigilance. We must all speak up, speak out, and be relentless in our pursuit of a more inclusive environment for our students. Acts of racism, bias, or other abusive behaviors will not be tolerated in any way, shape, or form on this campus.
There is work to be done at our University. That work has already begun. This past Wednesday night, more than 400 students, faculty, administrators, alumni, representatives from the NAACP, and community leaders attended a student-led meeting. They voiced concerns, asked questions, and offered suggestions for steps we can take to address real issues of inclusivity on our campus. Those discussions continued yesterday as I met individually with students in our campus dining hall and then hosted a two-hour forum with our faculty and staff last evening.
We will continue providing opportunities for students and our community to make their voices heard. I will do whatever is needed to make this campus welcoming to all, including meeting on a regular basis with students to keep this issue at the forefront of our thoughts. We are working with our community partners to begin a student NAACP chapter and strengthen our relationships through the sharing of expertise and resources. We are exploring community-driven thoughts and ideas around events, programming, curriculum, training opportunities, hiring, and staffing. We are going to take a hard look at our policies and our processes.
The last two days have brought forth the first moments of optimism that I have experienced since learning of this incident. It showed that our community is ready to come together and put in the hard work necessary to make real change. It is our obligation to do that, and with your help, we will shape a real and ongoing plan that includes input and action from our full community. Together, we can lead by example.
Read previous updates from President Woodward:
Nov. 1: An update from the University of Hartford
Oct. 31: An Important Message from President Gregory S. Woodward