Below is an official statement from the Collective of Concerned Students of Color and Anti-Racist Allies
BACKGROUND: On Tuesday, February 7, 2012 someone wrote the N word in permanent marker across a black student's door. This incident is but one of several that have occurred in recent months at Fordham, including an individual or group of individuals carving another racial slur into concrete and a student going out in Blackface for Halloween.
STATEMENT: We, as members of the student organizations listed below, publicly condemn these and all acts of racism, sexism, sexual prejudice, and violence. We also embrace and champion the University’s long-standing commitment to peace and justice and affirm the following:
• that every individual’s liberation and humanity is intrinsically linked and it is thus imperative that all members of the Fordham community not only respect, but also advocate for the emotional and physical well-being of all its members;
• that we, along with other students, staff, faculty, and the administration, share the responsibility to provide a communal space that both celebrates and protects the beauty of every individual’s personhood;
• that, as members of a Jesuit University, we are each called to be men and women [people] who are for and with others, to respect all members of this community, to acknowledge our human dignity, and to insist that this mission is reflected in every part of the institution.
We urge student accountability to our community and expect our fellow students to speak up about any forms or acts of prejudice, discrimination, and injustice at Fordham. We ask administrators to take affirmative steps to acknowledge, condemn, and correct these acts of prejudice and hate by continuously reflecting upon and assessing Fordham’s policies, practices, and structures that may disenfranchise, marginalize, or disregard any of our community members.
If any member of this community has any information regarding this specific incident or other incidents of hate, we implore them to contact University administrators about the matter.
Dear Father McShane and Fordham Administration,
Please read our "Requested Response to Racial Slur Incident from the Fordham Community"
Fordham University's Collective of Concerned Students of Color and Anti-Racist Allies calls for:
The entire Fordham student body to foster conversations and education about issues of hate at Fordham, and to report any incidents of hate.
The Fordham faculty to talk about the hate speech incident which occurred on February 7th in their classes, and to foster conversations about issues of hate and racism at Fordham.
The Fordham Student Life and Residential Life administrations to reevaluate and redesign their racial slur response protocol.
Regardless of the semantics used to describe this incident and whether or not you consider this a bias crime, hate crime, hate speech, or simply discrimination, the university needs to recognize and implement improvements to their response to these types of incidents. More specifically, the Collective of Concerned Students of Color and Anti-Racist Allies calls for the following:
For Residential Life to
1.Reexamine and redesign their hate crime response protocol in response to the inadequate way in which the racial slur incident in Walsh Hall was handled.
2. Require every new and current employee of the Residential Life central staff and Residential Director staff to participate in the Undoing Racism training run by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. We firmly believe that a more in-depth and extensive training led by more qualified anti-racist facilitators for Residential Life personnel regarding race relations and diversity would be beneficial not only to the Residential Life staff’s professional development, but also to the entire Fordham residential community. It is vital that those charged with fostering a culture of respect and understanding about race and diversity be qualified to promote these things in the residential halls. We feel that the existing training for Residential Assistants and Residential Directors is not adequate in preparing the Residential Life staff for handling these complicated and sensitive issues.
a. Hence, central staff and Residential Directors must attend the Undoing Racism Workshop before the end of the Spring 2012 semester in order to foster a more qualified and prepared Residential Life staff so that they can combat any racial injustices that may occur in the future. All Residential Life central staff and Residential Directors will be required to participate in this workshop this and in coming years.
3. Enforce the job requirement stipulation of 2-3 years experience in Residential Life in order to have the most qualified Residential Directors. Experience as a Residential Assistant should also be absolutely mandatory for any Residential Director applicant.
4. Intentionally reach out to a more diverse applicant pool for open positions within the office. Residential Life needs to increase diversity numbers amongst the student Residential Assistants and staff employees. Consequently, Residential Life should give intentional consideration to racially diverse applicants in particular.
For Student Affairs to
1. Make the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) a completely separate entity and division. By being an established and independent entity, OMA would be better equipped to provide and support the Fordham community. Because of their system of accountability which has OMA report to Student Affairs, their capacity to report and prevent incidents of hate is limited and inauthentic. In understanding this, the collective recognizes that OMA should have the necessary autonomy so that Fordham can fully promote diversity and simultaneously help Fordham live out the social justice imperatives which are inherent in our Jesuit history.
2. In addition, we call upon the university to provide OMA with additional resources, funding, and staffing so that they can adequately support both Fordham students of color and the entire Fordham community in addressing issues of diversity. Increased funding for OMA would allow for more intentional and thorough programming.
3. Implement mandatory sessions about race at Fordham during New Student Orientation which will outline:
a. appropriate and direct language to use when discussing topics of race
b.who to contact about acts of discrimination and bias
c. an explicit explanation of the documentation procedure for hate crimes of any kind
4. Implement and oversee an Anonymous Bias Reporting System designed for student use.
5. Perform an external Audit from the Office of Civil Rights to assess the areas of growth in the current system in place at Fordham with regards to addressing acts of discrimination, and also to provide constructive feedback as to how to improve the current system and assess institutional implementation of racial diversity.
For Admissions to:
1. Be more intentional about racial diversity and multicultural recruiting of incoming students
2. Recruit not only international students of color but students of color from the United States, especially fostering a stronger college access pipeline for students coming from the surrounding Bronx community
3. Sponsor and support a Diversity Weekend and a multicultural brunch in the fall and spring for students of color. This weekend will provide an opportunity for perspective students of color to be hosted by Fordham students to further encourage them to consider Fordham in their college selection.
4. Mandatory undoing racism workshop for all faculty and staff in the Admissions Office to ensure that they are responsible and accountable for the proactive implementation of policies that welcome diversity.
For Human Resources to:
1. Create an Office of Institutional Diversity with a full staff to replace, expand, and improve upon the current empty position of the Director of Equity and Equal Opportunity. Many Universities across the country have created, developed, and supported Offices of Institutional Diversity (or Offices of Institutional Equity) some of which include: Notre Dame, Georgetown, Boston College, Holy Cross, University of Loyola Chicago, and Duke University.
2. Immediately post a clear job posting for the Director of Equity and Equal Opportunity and fill that position as soon as possible. This job position would be solely for an interim period considering Human Resources would be in the process of establishing the Office of Institutional Diversity
3. Maintain accountability to the needs of the university’s student body, staff, and faculty, and continually evaluate whether those needs are being met through the services provided by this office.
With this said, the Collective of Concerned Students of Color and Anti-Racist allies acknowledge the following problems with the current procedure that was implemented after the February 7, 2012 hate crime and bias incident.
Problems with Current Procedure:
-10 days passed without any university-wide public notification or condemnation of a hate crime that occurred on campus
-14 days passed before any response was implemented in the Residence Hall where the crime was committed- neither for punitive nor healing purposes.
-The Office of Residential Life failed to “work closely” with the targeted student, and misrepresented itself by falsely claiming to have done so in a school newspaper
-Other Residential Halls were not notified of the incident, thus inhibiting staff from addressing the concerns and discomfort of residents affected by the incident
In short, the current procedure that was implemented after this incident reinforced a culture of silence and failed to address the covert racism that exists in various realms of the institution.
Suggested Revisions to the Racial Slur Response Protocol:
1. Notify the entire Fordham community- students, faculty, staff- immediately (that day or the following) when an incident of bias which targets a community (Black students, LGBTQ students, etc.) occurs on campus and/or to one of our students off campus. With this release of information, ask the target of the hate speech/recipient of racial slur the terms of their confidentiality and how they would like to be identified.
2. Release a public statement as well as a security alert condemning the crime immediately (that day or the following) and requesting information from anyone who might know something regarding the incident
3. Maintain consistent contact with the student(s) involved- keeping in mind that when a hate crime is committed, a community is targeted, not just the individual. There needs to be a formal procedure accessible to the public for addressing the concerns of the student when an injustice or racial attack occurs.
a. consistent contact includes touching base with the students involved, offering campus resources and CPS, and having a required follow up meeting with Residential Life staff members in the following days
b. clearly outlined means of communication with Staff members for all residential students both online and after any incident
4. Immediately (that day or the following) address the community within which the incident took place, especially if it happens to be a residential hall. Have preplanned responses for this confrontation/learning opportunity. Schedule a town hall meeting for the residents of the building in which the incident took place.
a. The town hall meeting should allow for students to respond to the incident, for residents to voice their concerns, and for staff members to both facilitate a conversation about race and spread awareness about diversity/racial dynamics on campus.
Suggested Revisions for the Procedure taken from this Specific Incident:
1. The university will issue a public apology for the delayed response in notifying the community about this incident
2. The office of Residential life will issue a private statement of apology for not taking full initiative in supporting the student targeted on the February 7th incident
3. The university will issue a public condemnation of all acts of racial bias and a pledge to confront racism in our community- this entails the immediate cessation of the false claim that, “We have a strong culture of tolerance and respect at Fordham, of which we are all justifiably proud. We expect the members of the University community to continue displaying the same decency and respect they have always shown to one another” since we clearly do not have a culture of tolerance to be proud of. This public condemnation would also need to recognize that generalized and glorified statements like these regarding the student body not only silence those oppressed by racism and other ills existing in our community, but also perpetuate these problems.
4.Immediately (tomorrow or sooner) address the Walsh Hall community in a way which conveys that Fordham University does not tolerate acts of racial discrimination by charging residents with a community fine and providing mandatory anti-racist programming or training for students living in the community affected by the crime by qualified personnel