Thursday, September 22, 2005

Recent Incident at UVA Casts Its Shadow

You need to elevate this to a UM community issue. It's not just an APA issue. This affects and reflects the entire community.

UVA is dealing with racial incidents as well, and the UVA prez gave a speech addressing it. Someone from the administration should definitely speak out or be pressured to. This is not an isolated incident. And, the community needs to recognize it and respond. UAAO and/or a collection of student groups, including student govt, should request a meeting with the Prez.
Petition is good, but a face-to-face meeting is also a good next step.
Impress upon the fact that this is student on student intimidation, so therefore the UM community has some responsiblity here.

UVa president seeks racial solidarity
By Melanie Mayhew / Daily Progress staff writer September 17, 2005!news

Their voices soared in the shadow of the Rotunda, each note circling Thomas Jefferson's white columns, echoing a community's response to recent reported acts of intolerance.

"We shall overcome," the students sang as University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III strolled to a podium overlooking 200 members of the university community.

Casteen's address on Friday evening, vocally complemented by a university gospel ensemble, was the latest response to a string of incidents on the Grounds.

"We've come to express unity, I've come to express solidarity," Casteen said. "We are one with regard to the human dignity that belongs to every member of this community."

People in the crowd said they will don black ribbons for the next week, an action leaders said reflects their commitment to improving the climate of tolerance at the nation's No. 2 public institution.The speech followed a rash of incidents, including multiple incidents of written or shouted slurs, gay bashings and a symbolic attack on a Christian student. The list grew longer this week when a second-year student returned to his car Tuesday night and discovered a racist and sexually explicit note on his windshield.
Earlier that morning, a Lawn resident reported that someone had defaced a "I do not tolerate intolerance" sign on her door. "Not" was crossed out, and the perpetrator added, "cause I hate gays."

The incidents are nothing new to the university community, but students'
responses to the incidents could usher in a new, more tolerant era at the university, said Warren M. Thompson, a black UVa graduate and chairman of the Board of Visitors' Special Committee on Diversity.

It's the responsibility of each member of the community to pave the way to the "most diverse, most inclusive university in this country," Thompson said. "We're not going to be derailed by anything."

Casteen encouraged students to immediately report all incidents and to provide investigators with detailed information and undisturbed evidence.

Although some students praised Casteen's speech, some questioned how easily the racial climate at UVa would - and could - change.

The university's efforts, although appreciated, "are largely symbolic rather than substantive," said Chris Williams, a black senior.

Williams and Tracy Clemons, a black third-year student, want to see university officials lead with more action and less rhetoric.

"I commend [President Casteen] for coming out and saying something," Clemons said. "[But] he still didn't really take a stand."

Stacey Jacobs, a first-year student who said the incidents have not surprised her, said she's been pleased with the university's response to the incidents.

"As an African-American, I like what's being done," she said.

Added Spencer Gray, also a black freshman: "It does a lot of good for the president to notice and pay attention to [the incidents]."

The community's solidarity in the wake of the incidents is one of the most effective tools in addressing these intolerant acts, said Casteen, who labeled the perpetrators of the acts "cowards."

Everyone must know, he said, that "we are together and that we believe in one another."


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