August 29, 2005
Classes at UVA have been in session for a little over a week now and there have already been a handful of incidents involving race. Currently, University officials are investigating those incidents.
UVA started the year excited about its most diverse class of first years ever, but now issues involving racism are coming front and center. Many students both young and old said they were not surprised about the recent incidents.
"It's not just this week," said 4th Year Nursing Student Margaret Schiller. "It's been going on for a long time, and I just think it's ridiculous."
On Monday, Schiller was one of many students on grounds who wore a black shirt, all to send a message of solidarity, a message saying that racial intolerance is unacceptable.
"Pretty much every year, there is something that takes place," says 4th Year Student Phil Jackson.
Jackson returned to his room Saturday morning to find a racial epithet as well as "I hate Jesus" written on his message board.
"The shock was very brief and I think it was more just disappointment that racial intolerance of this kind was continuing here at this institution," he explained.
Jackson has not been the only victim of racial harassment, other minorities have reported similar postings, as well as incidents of people shouting racial slurs from cars.
Despite all of that, students and university officials remain optimistic.
"This set of events should be used to promote an embracing of diversity," said Jade Craig, the Vice Chair of the Black Leadership Institute. "[It should] be used to say never again will this happen at our university and [never] will we stand by and accept it."
University officials agree and are taking the matter very seriously. "We want to reassure students who have been victimized," said University Spokesperson Carol Wood. "We also want to make sure that all students know that if anything like this happens, they need to report it directly to the police immediately."
Jackson said that he believes that actions that have taken place over the last week represent a minority of individuals at the University, and he still thinks UVA is a great place, where most embrace diversity.
In light of the recent incidents, student leaders are looking into possibly editing UVA's honor code to encompass racial harassment.