CU Boulder students seek reform after racist clash
Oct. 08, 2019
Black Student Alliance leaders at the University of Colorado Boulder are seeking campuswide and systemwide reform after a white woman harassed black students studying at the Engineering Center on Sunday.
In a video posted on social media, a woman yells expletives and racist slurs at students in a study room before she is interrupted and asked to leave by a professor.
In the video, the woman accuses students of “stalking” her and calls them racial epithets several times.
A professor then approaches the woman and tells her he will call campus police unless she leaves.
The incident is being investigated by the CU Boulder Police Department, which said in a statement Monday that the woman is not believed to be a student or associated with the university.
Investigators are trying to locate the woman, who may be the same woman who was removed from campus for camping illegally in September.
She is described as standing 5 feet, 3 inches to 5 feet, 5 inches tall, weighing 130 to 140 pounds and has short blond hair.
The incident was condemned by campus and system leaders, but Black Student Alliance leaders on social media said the response was lacking and described President Mark Kennedy’s response as “passive.”
“We won’t be taking the generic response from the university as reform,” the group wrote on Instagram. “It will not pacify us. We are waiting on reorientation and amendments of the way it handles these situations.”
The student organization addressed Kennedy directly on Twitter, asking for a chance to talk to Kennedy about the issues facing the CU system and how to institute change.
The Black Student Alliance also posted a list of five demands, including barring the woman involved from campus, developing a systemwide, zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, instituting campuswide training and for Kennedy to condemn the incident as racist.
On Twitter, Kennedy described the incident as a “verbal altercation … that included racially hostile language” and said he wanted “to be clear in unequivocally condemning racist and threatening behaviors.”
CU Boulder spokeswoman Melanie Parra said the student alliance shared the demands with university leaders on Monday, and representatives from Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement met with students to discuss the incident and the university’s response.
“Conversations with the students will continue as will the university’s review and response to the incident,” Parra said.
CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano sent a letter to students , faculty and staff on Monday describing the incident as “absolutely unacceptable.”
“I cannot state this strongly enough — racist behavior is offensive to our campus values and will not be tolerated,” DiStefano wrote.
While the woman is not believed to be affiliated with the campus, DiStefano called her actions “insulting to our values” and said she would be held accountable “to the fullest extent possible.”
Campus leaders also will work on improving policies, training and resources “for our campus community to reject intolerance and racism wherever they exist,” DiStefano wrote.
Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Bobby Braun also condemned the incident on social media.
Braun wrote on Twitter that he will meet with students this week and that the department will hold an open forum this semester.
The video of the incident on campus Sunday contains offensive language and viewer discretion advised.