The president of Colorado State University sent a note to the campus Friday afternoon addressing numerous incidents involving hate speech that have occurred this semester.
“How much do we communicate and when – and through which vehicles – can be a difficult balancing act, weighing the potential of magnifying the voice of those who would seek to intimidate against failing to state how strongly we condemn such actions and risking the appearance of inaction or apathy,” Tony Frank wrote in the letter.
He specifically addressed four incidents. The first involved a paper noose that was found in one of the residence halls before class started.
The second was an anti-Semitic message left on a student’s whiteboard.
The third was an anti-Semitic nickname given to someone’s personal server that was also visible on the campus network.
These two incidents prompted Jewish students, faculty, staff and allies to march to draw attention to what had occurred.
“Let’s reset some foundational elements,” Frank wrote. “Colorado State University deplores any acts of hate and terror and takes seriously our responsibility to investigate them and address them appropriately through our judicial and conduct systems.”
In the letter, Frank did not say the campus was going to take any specific actions to prevent future incidents.
Instead, Frank urged students to report potentially concerning incidents to the university.
Frank cited a fourth unfortunate instance as a model for what the community can do in the face of these situations.
He said that a Middle Eastern student was on the bus Thursday when someone began to “exhibit disturbing and intimidating behavior toward her.” Frank says other people on the bus interceded on the student’s behalf and walked her to her destination.
Frank says the student also reported the incident to a faculty member who told her to contact law enforcement – something that allowed CSU’s campus police department to find and cite the offender, who is now no longer allowed on campus.
“This doesn’t erase the fear this woman felt or the feelings she will continue to struggle with over this incident,” Frank said. “It doesn’t prevent such an incident from happening again, but it provides a model for all of us in upholding and defending our community standards.”