Dear USF Black Student Union,
We are grateful for Black Student Union’s (BSU) efforts to advocate for the University of San Francisco (USF) Black community, including students, staff, and faculty. We, as a university community, want nothing more than to see an end to all forms of hate in this country, especially on our cherished campus. We know our Black students come to USF seeking a diverse and inclusive community and know many feel we have not fully lived up to the promise of our mission. We must and will do better. We may not be able to stop acts of racial injustice from occurring; however, we can continue to enhance our response to these incidents when they occur and increase our efforts to stop incidents of anti-Black racism. We will do better in our communication, structures, systems, and processes to address anti-Blackness on this campus and ensure the safety and well-being of Black students.
We have received additional feedback at yesterday’s community event hosted by BASE that our communication around the incident in Loyola Village on March 30 has not been timely and clear and has left the community wondering how seriously we are taking this situation, what the processes are for addressing student misconduct, and what the consequences are for the student’s actions.
We understand the urgency of your demands. Below, we have responded to each of the four demands presented by BSU leadership, with additional information that outlines what we are committed to building and improving upon.
“WE DEMAND the University release the name of the student that committed this act of terrorism.”
USF response: We understand that there is a sense of anxiety and fear in our community. Many people feel that if we release the name of the student, then they would be better protected. We are not able to release the name of the student during an active investigation and understand this is difficult to hear. All students are bound by the student conduct code, which includes privacy protection under FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). The student conduct code needs to be followed in instances of student misconduct and that includes a student’s ability to attend a formal meeting with a hearing officer. Due to the seriousness of the situation and the harm it caused to the community, the student was immediately removed from residential housing. Staff in the Dean of Students Office are available to meet with any student to support their individual needs. During this three-day Easter weekend 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“WE DEMAND the student immediately be removed from university housing indefinitely and be expelled.”
USF response: In any case of alleged misconduct, students have certain rights, which include a hearing and an appeal process. The university has obligations in investigating and concluding these cases.
In this case, the university judicial process is urgently underway and the next step in the process will take place early next week. Once the process has been completed, communication will be sent to you and the USF community providing an update on the process.
“WE DEMAND the University officially consider all hate crimes as an immediate threat to safety. They must be handled like other emergencies and communicated to students through a university-wide notification system.”
USF response: We will take immediate action on your demand. Although the emergency response system was designed for different circumstances, we acknowledge the need from our community to re-evaluate this standard and include potential hate crimes in this protocol. This includes alerting the community via text message and/or phone call to include available details for clarity and community safety.
“WE DEMAND the University facilitates wellness checks and provides space for affected students following harmful incidents rather than expecting students to seek these resources themselves.”
USF response: USF administration is reviewing current communication practices and protocols related to our response to bias incidents and harmful incidents. We want to ensure that our students are not placed in a situation where they must advocate for resources on their own.
Additional information will be shared with our community about upcoming efforts through DECO, the Dean of Students Office, Cultural Centers and other units in Student Life. BASE will provide an ongoing processing space throughout the spring semester for Black students. More information about the dates and times for these process spaces is forthcoming. In addition, the deans of all schools and the college will communicate with your faculty, encouraging them to offer support in the spirit and practice of cura personalis as we all collectively process this incident, as well as the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.
Beginning immediately, the university administration will work on a comprehensive plan that will include clear information on protocols and processes on incidents of bias and hate crimes. With consultation from BSU, Black Law Student Association (BLSA), ASUSF Senate, Graduate Student Senate, and other student organizations, in addition to the USF student, faculty, and staff community, we will enhance our timely and coordinated responses to potential incidents that have an impact on our community. Our plan will seek strategies to support the individuals most impacted, any broader identities that are affected, and the USF community as a whole. It will include a review of the Bias Education Resource Team (BERT) and the addition of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Incident Response Team.
We understand that we need to continue our work to earn your trust and confidence. We are hopeful that the work ahead promotes healing and a clear path forward for us all.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.
Tyrone H. Cannon
Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs