Bias incidents at the University of Connecticut need to be taken more seriously. Following the incident that occurred in the Busby Suites on March 3, 2022, where anti-Black racist language was found on a floor with a Black resident assistant (RA), it is more important than ever to address this. Simply acknowledging that the incident occurred or arresting the offender is not enough, as all facets of the problem must be dealt with or else there’s no real discouragement of other bias-related acts.
When an antisemitic incident in a South Campus residence hall occurred in Fall 2020, UConn sent out an email that only went to personnel related to that building. This move was criticized by the community at the time, as it was widely felt that attempting to contain the matter instead of alerting everyone who might be affected was insufficient.
Per an unnamed source, The Daily Campus knows that this critique was heard by the UConn administration, as students and other members of the community met multiple times with administrators to discuss bias response protocols broadly, with this being one point of interest.
Unfortunately, the progress that seemingly came from those meetings does not seem to have gone far enough. More than a year after the South Campus incident, the same bias response protocol of notifying as few people as deemed possible was used recently, specifically with the March 3 incident in Busby Suites.
According to The Daily Campus’ reporting, “On March 11, Residential Life addressed the bias-related incident in a letter to Busby residents.”
While sending out this letter was certainly better than nothing at all, everyone on campus deserves to know when something horrifying and potentially dangerous like this happens.
Other than bias response messaging, this event raises even more questions about campus safety. How can UConn brag about being one of the safest campuses in the country when things like this happen? This wasn’t just an isolated incident, and shouldn’t be viewed as such. An article in The Daily Campus dated April 5 reported that the perpetrator is a man from Mansfield who had already been served a no-trespass order for committing multiple offenses prior to his racist vandalism in Busby. One of these acts was graffiti on the UConn Spirit Rock, where the words “Black Lives Matter” had been painted beforehand.
Bias incidents of many kinds occur way too frequently at UConn. This campus should not be a place where one person that has already committed hateful acts is able to so easily gain access to a residence hall for the explicit purpose of doing more harm. This campus should not be a place where seven separate antisemitic incidents have to happen before the general public’s attention is raised. In general, this campus should not be a place where students ever feel fear for themselves, or their peers, but that is unfortunately an ideal that seems unattainable at the moment.
UConn, we beg of you, the answer to making this community feel safer has nothing to do with police officers, as that is a solely reactive measure — we need proactive measures. We need a school that fosters a culture of kindness, acceptance and intolerance of hate. This school will be safer and more secure if all people connected to it are united against what makes us feel unsafe, and the first step to creating that kind of community is being open and honest about issues like the Busby incident. Hiding it so that UConn can have a good public image is unacceptable — own that it happened, and let’s all come together to keep it from happening again.