Dear USF Community,
We know members of our community — especially Black students, faculty, and staff — have experienced anger, hurt, and fear in the wake of the March 30 discovery of a noose hanging from a Loyola Village Residence Hall balcony railing. As you know, the student who admitted to hanging the noose was immediately removed from university housing and an investigation was launched.
The investigation conducted by USF as announced in a March 31 message to the community has been completed, and we write to share the outcome with you. We thank the students who came forward to report the noose and to all who cooperated in the investigation.
The university has confirmed that the student acted alone in creating the noose and left it hanging in a public space for an undetermined amount of time. Although it was learned through the investigation that the student’s actions were not directed at another member of the USF community, the impact caused extraordinary distress, hurt, and fear for health, safety, and well-being. USF does not and will not tolerate actions that have such an impact, regardless of intent or underlying reasons.
For these actions and specific violations of the USF student code of conduct, the student has been expelled from the university, effective immediately.
We also want to take a moment to address concerns that have been raised about the university’s handling of this incident.
- The Black Student Union (BSU) delivered four demands in the wake of this incident, and the university provided its response within the requested time frame. The BSU demands included releasing the student’s name. We will not release the name of the student, as we stated in the response shared with the community. All students have a federally protected right to privacy and the university does not release the names of students involved in the conduct process or names of students who are involved in the investigation.
- The USF student code of conduct protects the rights of every student when accused of a conduct violation and all students who may be brought into an investigation. Accordingly, during the process the safety and security of the community is paramount. In this case, during the course of the investigation by the Office of Student Conduct, it was learned that some information circulating was not accurate and there were other factors that contributed to the student making the noose. This is why USF is committed to ensuring every student has the right to a process that also includes providing support to all students who are a part of the investigation. USF’s student conduct process was followed from the immediate removal of the student from USF housing to the outcome we are sharing today. This included careful and ongoing attention paid to ensuring the safety of the community. While this process takes time and consideration, the safety and well-being of all members of our community is always our highest priority. It is important for our community to be aware that the student conduct process includes an option for students to request an appeal to any code of conduct outcome. The opportunity to appeal is not automatic. Certain criteria must be met before an appeal hearing is granted.
- We encourage you to review the next steps provided in the response to the BSU.
We reiterate what we communicated last week: USF condemns all acts of racism including artifacts and weapons that express the legacy of hatred, violence, and racism.
We are grateful for the students who have come forward, to the Bias Education and Resource Team (BERT), members of the Black Community Council, and BASE Advisory Board, and many others who have worked together to respond and support our community. In particular, we want to acknowledge the continued efforts of the Black Student Union at USF, for not only their activism and contributions in this process, but for their advocacy for the needs of the Black community. Further, we are grateful to our community of faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, donors, and trustees who are committed to anti-racism, accountability, and support.
For all members of the USF community: If you find you need assistance in the wake of this or other incidents, we remind you of the following resources, in addition to BERT:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is available to students if you would like to discuss how you are feeling with a professional therapist. Please call (415) 422-6352 during normal business hours to make an appointment.
- Students can also contact ProtoCall, our after-hours support and consultation line. You can speak live to an on-call counselor by calling (415) 422-6352 and pressing option #2. Counselors are available from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m (PT) Monday through Friday and 24 hours a day on weekends.
- Staff in the Dean of Students Office are available to meet with any student to support their individual needs. During weekends and after hours students can call (415) 422-4201 to be connected with an on-call staff member. During regular business hours students can call (415) 422-5330 or email email@example.com.
- Dominique Broussard, in partnership with the Black Resource Center and CAPS, will host bi-weekly Healing Circles for Black students until the end of the semester. The dates are April 15 and 29, and May 13. There is more info on the Black Resource Center Canvas page.
- University Ministry support services are available to all community members and can be reached at (415) 422-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Faculty and staff members can contact CONCERN, the university’s employee assistance program, at (800) 344-4222.
Thank you for joining us in standing against injustice and hate, and in supporting all members of our diverse, inclusive, beloved community. It is important that all our students, faculty, and staff experience the unwavering support of the USF community.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.
Tyrone H. Cannon
Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs
Vice Provost, Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach