Students at the University of Connecticut questioned the lack of an official university response to Friday’s racist incident at Charter Oak Apartments during an event Wednesday night.
Friday morning, three white people were filmed saying the n-word and laughing outside the open windows of black students’ apartments in the Charter Oak Apartment complex. In response, UConn’s Residential Life department held a forum for students to discuss the incident.
“I cannot speak for the University of Connecticut,” Dr. Pamela Schipani, Residential Life executive director, said to the crowd. “This is our response, Residential Life, to bring people together to talk about how we are impacted, you are impacted, how disgusting this is to us and how deplorable it is, and how do we heal one another and move forward.”
Many students voiced their frustration that the university has not put out an official statement responding to the incident. One student called it insulting that Residential Life was the first to address it, rather than university administration. Another student said an official response from UConn would demonstrate solidarity with students of color and show the university is taking the issue seriously.
Schipani said the university had asked Residential Life to respond, and said she would pass back the message that students want an official university response.
“I think that because this took place outside of a residence hall, they asked us to start with the acknowledgement, which was the letter sent to students,” Schipani said.
Students also said they think there needs to be a conversation on how to prevent similar issues going forward.
Event attendees asked about UConn’s required staff training to handle discrimination- related incidents. Schipani responded that all UConn employees go through diversity training during their orientation, and resident assistants go through two weeks of training to prepare for their jobs.
Ultimately, the students said it’s not enough for UConn to be diverse. Students and employees of color should feel included.
Fitzroy Webb, a seventh-semester nursing major, said he came late to the event but hopes Residential Life has been active in addressing the incident.
“I don’t wish nothing bad on no one, but that has to be addressed,” Webb said. “It wouldn’t be the same if they were the opposite race, doing what they were doing.”
Gabriella DeBenedictis is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.