Update: Messages on expressions of hate

Jeremy Manier
Associate Vice President for CommunicationsUniversity Communications

Following the email President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Eric D. Isaacs sent to the campus community last week (below), Karen Warren Coleman, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services emailed the campus community with this update. Campus and Student Life also has posted an FAQ with additional information related to the incident.

To: The campus community
From: Karen Warren Coleman, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services
Subject: Update on Facebook incident
Date: November 24, 2014

Last week President Zimmer and Provost Isaacs wrote to the campus community about an unusually alarming and hateful threat that appeared on a student’s Facebook page. The University takes any such expression of hate very seriously, and we continue to pursue the facts of the case. Based on our ongoing investigation we now are confident that the Facebook posting was not created by a hacker.

That conclusion does not erase the seriousness of this episode, the harm it has caused to individuals and our broader community, or the consequences for those responsible. Whatever its purpose, the language used in this incident does not constitute discourse and will not be tolerated. Its use underlines questions about campus climate already raised in other contexts. These emerging facts do not in any way diminish the University’s commitment to a diverse campus, free from harassment and discrimination, as articulated by the president and provost in their message.

This turn of events may be upsetting to members of our community for a variety of reasons. Students, faculty, or staff who wish to gather to talk about these incidents and get support should check csl.uchicago.edu for information on special sessions we will host today and in the days ahead. Later you will hear more about our ongoing efforts, as we consult with students, faculty, and staff members to address larger issues of campus climate and provide effective venues for continued discussion.

To: The campus community
From: Robert J. Zimmer and Eric D. Isaacs
Subject: Expressions of Hate
Date: November 19, 2014

We have learned that the Facebook page of at least one University of Chicago student was hacked, and a message with hateful and abhorrent attacks on members of our community was posted. This is unacceptable and violates our core values. Anonymous and personal attacks that are hateful, threatening, and target people’s identity do not constitute discourse and deserve our strongest condemnation.

An investigation is underway with the help of federal law enforcement agencies and third-party website providers to see if we can determine who posted the message. If you have any additional information about this incident, please email report-bias@uchicago.edu. We will pursue criminal prosecution, and if the individual is a member of our community we will pursue disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion or termination of employment. Getting answers to these questions may be difficult, but regardless of the outcome we must engage in active discussion about the impact of these attacks on our campus.

This comes in the midst of other incidents in which members of our community have felt targeted, harassed, or threatened on the basis of their identity. Harassment and threats on the basis of identity are completely antithetical to the values of the University and will not be tolerated. They are harmful and hurtful both to individuals and to the fabric of our community.

We are committed to creating a diverse campus environment free from harassment and discrimination. We will follow up in the coming days with information about additional, specific actions we will take in consultation with students, faculty, and staff members.