Culture Shock: To Thomas Katsouleas,

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When you first arrived at the University of Connecticut, I always said you were dealt a bad deck of cards. You walked into a series of events that were unprecedented. I told others I felt bad for you and that hopefully, this would all blow over soon. 

One year later, that pity has all but vanished. I now look at you the same as every other white man in power, with anger, sadness, and despair.  

I never knew Susan Herbst. You were my first example of what a UConn president looked like. I saw you driving your candy red Tesla, rolling around on your skateboard and dancing at your inauguration. I thought to myself, “Wow, this man is cool.” Cool in the sense of not being too far removed from the young generation that makes up our campus. You proved me wrong. Your reality is so far-fetched from the average student’s reality. You sit in board meetings all day, making decisions that impact students’ lives with no students present. You create pointless councils comprised of majority faculty to create an illusion that you and the university care. You’re not fooling me.  

You don’t care. You never did. You never will.  

At this university, the idea of us all being a “pack” is touted around like a badge of honor. As a Black woman, I have always felt left behind. There are many other Black men and women that have felt this feeling of defeat, watching the “pack” move forward as we are left behind with the scraps to create a community of our own. We try to assimilate, to dilute our Blackness. But day in, day out, we are constantly reminded that we will never be gifted with the privilege that 55% of the university possesses. You have played into this narrative throughout your whole presidency. You have shown your Black student population that all we are worth is two sentences on a blue background. You have shown us that you would rather say “all lives matter” before you uttered the words “Black Lives Matter”.  

“At this university, the idea of us all being a “pack” is touted around like a badge of honor. As a Black woman, I have always felt left behind.”

I pay almost $60,000 a year to attend this university. Sixty thousand dollars for students to yell racial slurs as they drive by. Sixty thousand dollars to be referred to as three-fifths of a person by white counterparts. Sixty thousand dollars to be told to go back where I came from. Sixty thousand dollars to hear students yelling “n*gger” as they walk past my dorm. This university is a line on my resume that I will look at in shame, shame that I ever attended a school that forced me to expunge who I was in order to survive.  

They say in times of turmoil, true leaders emerge. You have failed. You had countless opportunities to prove to us that you were the change we’ve been begging for, but you failed. You failed UConn, you failed your Black Huskies.  

Do better, TomKat. Do better.  

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