My name is Trevis Farver Jr. and I am currently a Junior (Class of 2019), Management Information Systems major in the School of Business. Additionally, I am a Senior Resident Assistant, a peer advisor in the School of Business, the President of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), and a proud member of the African-American Cultural Center. Point being, I am a highly-involved, active member of the UConn community, despite the University’s actions, both covert and overt, that allow me to feel less than so as a black man.
My purpose for this letter is to address the insensitive, ignorant, and downright condemnable “It’s Okay to be White” event that took place this past Tuesday evening. More importantly, to address the university’s allowance of Lucian B. Wintrich, a racist, alt-right, xenophobic, white supremacist, to speak on our grounds. Ultimately, this letter is to call into question the underlying morality and true colors of the UConn administration which permitted and excused a campus assembly of hate.
As a university, from the moment one is viewed as a prospective UConn student to the day you walk the stage, boasts about their efforts and achievements in the fields of diversity and inclusion. They throw falsified numbers at you, treating our minority communities as some tweakable statistic. They hold a constant, and often misrepresented light over our cultural centers in hopes of pushing this same agenda. Lastly, they push these narratives of solidarity and standing behind all “Huskies,” regardless of identity, yet fail to address the recent hate crimes at the University of Hartford, less than an hour away from our campus of affected students.
Now, imagine being a person of color at a predominately white institution, a first-year student living in a residence hall you’ve come to look at as your second home. One morning, you walk out of your room and hear a group of floormates in their room chanting “We love n-ggers.” Well, this was my experience no more than two years ago. My initial feeling was one of embarrassment, and in the moments that followed, feelings of anger, sadness, and isolation, etc. Instead of taking the approach the media would have expected of someone in my skin, my first course of action was to send an email directly to Susan Herbst herself. After waiting days for a response, much to my surprise, it came to be that Susan had read my email yet did not respond. Instead, she forwarded it to Residential Life, UCDP, and the Dean of Students. Although there were people in my corner who I thank immensely, such as Eleanor Daugherty in the Dean of Students office, and Dr. Willena Kimpson Price, Director of the African-American Cultural Center, the incident got swept under the rug by the greater administration. I was told it was these students’ First Amendment rights and I was not targeted. I was also told I would hear again from the police to follow up for my safety. Two things happened following this, I never again heard from the police, and more importantly, I have felt like a target ever since.
This brings me to Tuesday evening, and the only question I have for UConn administration – why? With the current social and political climate of our nation, with the charged and hateful rhetoric of the event, which one would believe is an antithesis to UConn’s beliefs, along with the overall necessity of human decency, why would you as a university allow such an event to occur? If not for reasons of solidarity with our “diverse” faculty, staff, and students, then for reasons of tact and keeping up pretenses, why would you allow a man whose Twitter timeline is drowned in posts attacking the same people you claim to protect, speak at our institution? Other universities in our nation have banned this bigot for the fact that the protection of their communities is more important than upholding someone’s right to spew hate.
Aside from the broken glass, smoke bombs, raised voices, and handcuffs, the true showing of this evening were the true colors of this University’s administration, and what the people in charge deem of value. Further than just allowing the event, at my time of writing this, it has been almost 24 hours since. Still President Herbst, along with other high-level university officials, such as Joelle Murchison (Chief Diversity Officer), who has on multiple occasions failed to uphold her job description, have failed to address this issue. They have failed to reassure our community that they can do what they expect us to do – protect our pack. They have failed to be the University of care and compassion that they claim to be and showed that their true “diversity” initiatives are simply black and white. Black and white in the sense that there are two sides – those who matter and belong, and those who are simply allowed to attend.
Trevis Farver Jr.