Racism Response: Timeline & Updates

"Framingham State University draws strength from its diversity. We are an institution where individuals of differing cultures, perspectives, and experiences are welcomed, respected, valued and supported. In response to recent events, we must not allow those with hate in their hearts to divide us. The best way to stand up to this type of vile behavior is by uniting as a community against it."

- President F. Javier Cevallos

Join the conversation #hateisnotafRAMilyvalue, #FSUnity.

Timeline| Updates from Administration| Reward

Timeline of Racist Incidents

Friday, November 17, 2017
  • President Cevallos updated the campus community about recent reports of racism (see communication below).
Monday, November 13, 2017
  • An FSUnity Workshop is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Hemenway Hall Room 136.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
  • A third incident was reported in Larned Hall targeting one of our African American students on campus. A flyer defaced with racially offensive writing was found under a student’s door.
Friday, October 20, 2017
  • Police provided an update on the investigation (detailed communication below).
Monday, October 16, 2017
  • Bias Education Response Team met in the morning.
  • Campus-wide community forum held in the Dwight Performing Arts Center.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
  • Second incident occurred early afternoon.
  • The President convened conference call mid-afternoon with executive staff, police, Dean of Students, Director of Communications, and Associate Dean of Students to discuss racist incidents.
  • Email statement from President Cevallos sent late afternoon.
  • Convened Bias Education Response Team for Monday morning.
  • Met with students before evening residence meeting.
  • Held residence hall meeting in the evening.
Saturday, October 14, 2017
  • Responded to emails from students.
  • Planned for Sunday meeting discussion.
Friday, October 13, 2017
  • Racist incident occurred early afternoon.
  • Email from CDIO to the campus community about racist incident Friday late afternoon.
  • Notified staff to be aware of situation to provide comfort to students. Planned to host a community forum this week.
  • Scheduled a floor meeting at the residence hall in the evening that Friday and Sunday.

Updates from the Administration

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dear FSU Community,

I’m reaching out to provide you with an update on our continued efforts to engage the community in responding to the incidents of racism that are occurring on our campus this semester. Since the highly publicized incidents that occurred in October, we’ve learned in our conversations with students and staff about other incidents of racism that they have experienced during their time at FSU. This includes a report of racism from last night in Towers Hall that police are actively investigating.

I know there is a lot of anger on our campus about what is going on. It’s important that our anger is matched by a resolve to emerge from this as a stronger and more inclusive community. We must not allow the actions of a group of hateful individuals to divide the rest of us, who reject racism and who recognize that we draw strength from our diversity.

While this has been a sad and trying time on our campus, I’ve been heartened by the actions taken by so many in our community to unite in rejecting this behavior. You have demanded action from the University and we have heard you.

-On Dec. 18th and 19th, up to 180 faculty and staff from our community, including all members of the University Police Department, will receive racial intelligence training with RITE Academy

-The University will be implementing required anti-bias training for incoming students

-We held a Unity Forum with students on Monday to start breaking up into groups to begin strategizing actions we can take around the following topics:  FSU Pledge; Intercultural training; Neighborhood watch; Anti-bias training module for students; Club Unity Project; Black and Gold Beginnings; Cameras in the residence halls; Diversity minor and other course offerings; Unity Day; Using social media to respond and build community; Diversity practices in our hiring; What you would like new faculty to know.

Attached to this email are the notes from the unity meeting. If you would like to include your recommendations related to any of the topics listed, email Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Millie Gonzalez at vgonzalez@framingham.edu.

-We have been in contact with Dan Levenson, an outreach coordinator from the Anti-Defamation League who has offered resources and support and attended Monday’s Unity Forum.

Police continue to seek the public’s help in finding those responsible for the incidents of racism that have occurred. A $1,000 reward will be provided for information leading to the identity of a person responsible for any of these acts. Please contact University Police at 508-626-4911 with any information. If you wish to remain anonymous, please use the anonymous tip line by texting to 67283, and in the beginning of your message typing “FSUTIP” followed by a space and then your message.

Javier Cevallos, PhD

President

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Good Morning Students,

The Student Affairs division at Framingham State University wants to reiterate that we stand with students and denounce hate in our Framily as well as the global community.

The offices of the Dean of Students, Campus Ministry, Career Services and Employer Relations, Counseling Center, Community Standards, First Year Programs, Health and Wellness Center, Residence Life, Student Involvement and Leadership Development, and Veterans Services, reject hate in all of its forms.

We want to assure you that this behavior is not tolerated and our offices are havens for you to come and express your feelings and get support. We stand together in unity with other members of the FSU Community and embrace an inclusive and caring community.

Please join the FSUnity Workshop on November 13th at 1:30pm in Hemenway Hall Room 136.  You can sign up using this link: https://sites.google.com/view/unitymeeting/home, all are welcome!  Hope to see you there. 

Sincerely,

David Baldwin

Interim Dean of Students

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dear Campus Community,

We know that many of you are anxious to hear updates on the Police investigation into the racist incidents that have occurred in Larned Hall. While certain details of an active investigation cannot be shared publicly because they could compromise the investigation, below are some details Chief Brad Medeiros has provided.

  • University police have requested the assistance of the FBI to further evaluate the racist messages and handwriting. Currently ongoing.
  • Our Security Camera contractor will be installing additional security cameras that will enhance our ability to monitor residence halls.
  • Guest sign in logs have been cross referenced with all incidents, and those guests that were in the building during the time frame of these incidents have been questioned.
  • Officers knocked on every residence room door in Larned Hall and interviewed everyone that they could speak to. Some residents were not available. Officers on several different shifts are being utilized to conduct follow up interviews.
  • A $1,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the identity of the person responsible for these acts.  Numerous tips have come in, we are currently following up on all of them.
  • Additional foot patrols of the building by University police are taking place, as well as residence life staff doing the same.

We continue to encourage the community to provide any information they may have that could be helpful to the investigation. Please contact University Police at 508-626-4911 with any information. If you wish to remain anonymous, please use the anonymous tip line by texting to 67283, and in the beginning of your message typing “FSUTIP” followed by a space and then your message.

Javier Cevallos, PhD

President

Monday, October 30, 2017

Dear FSU Community,

Given the racial incident that occurred last night, we thought it was important to provide you with an immediate update on everything the University has been working on over the past two weeks in response to these incidents.

We hear you and we are taking action.

Attached to this e-mail is a comprehensive rundown of the actions being taken across the different divisions at Framingham State University. All of this information will be posted to our webpage at www.framingham.edu.

I’d like to quickly highlight a few here:

-The University is offering a $1,000 reward to any student or nonemployee with information leading to the identification of an individual responsible for the three (3) incidents of racist graffiti in Larned Hall.  Please contact University Police at 508-626-4911 with any information. If you wish to remain anonymous, please use the anonymous tip line by texting to 67283, and in the beginning of your message typing “FSUTIP” followed by a space and then your message.

-We have hired Barbara Holland, Founder and CEO of BreakThrough Partners, a consulting firm specializing in inclusion and diversity cultural competence, diversity recruitment and retention, multicultural programming and executive coaching. She will be providing trainings and making recommendations for actions the University can take to improve campus culture around diversity and inclusion.

-University Police have reached out to two different facilitators to arrange for additional training for officers on responding to incidents of bias and racism.

-Academic Affairs and the Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, Scholarship and Service (CELTSS) are working on several trainings and roundtables with faculty so that they are better prepared to address these issues in class moving forward.

-Academic Affairs has submitted a short-term grant application for quick curricular changes for ten courses offered in Spring 2018. Changes would include adding elements focused on diversity/global learning.

I strongly encourage you to attend our community meeting on Monday, Nov. 13th, at 1:30 p.m. in Hemenway 136, where we will form working groups to combat these issues.

We are going to come out of this a stronger community!

#hateisnotafRAMilyvalue

#FSUnity

Yours in solidarity,

Millie González

Interim Chief Officer of Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement

Monday, October 30, 2017

Officials are offering a $1,000 reward to any student or non-employee who has information that leads to the successful identification of the individual(s) responsible for the following acts:

  • On Friday, October 13,  around 12:54 p.m., University Police responded to Larned Hall for racist language handwritten on a BSU club announcement flier on the door of the room where two students live;
  • On Sunday, October 15, at about 10:38 a.m., University Police responded to Larned Hall for racist language handwritten in black marker on the door of the room where the two students referenced above live;
  • On Sunday, Oct 29, around 9 p.m., University Police responded to Larned Hall, where a flier with racist language was slipped under the door of the room where two students live but not the same door referenced above.
  • Anyone with information regarding the incidents is encouraged to contact University Police at (508) 626-4911 or email at dispatch@framingham.edu.  
  • FSU Tip line which is 67283 in the beginning of your message type “FSUTIP” followed by a space and then your message.

Chief Brad Medeiros

University Police

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dear Campus Community,

Tonight we learned of a third incident of racism in Larned Hall targeting one of our African American students on campus. A flyer defaced with racially offensive writing was found under a student’s door. Police have already begun interviewing students in the building as part of their investigation. We are asking members of the community to please contact the FSU Police Department with any information you may have by calling 508-626-4911 or by texting an anonymous tip to 67283 with “FSUTIP” in the body of the message.

We must remain vigilant and unified in the face of the hatred that has occurred within our community. We are determined to find person(s) responsible for these actions and hold them accountable.

I know that you are not interested in words, you are interested in action. The University has launched a webpage that is linked to the front page of our website in order to keep the community informed and hold ourselves accountable. Tomorrow, we will be updating the page with details on all of the actions and planning that has gone on over the past two weeks to make ourselves a more inclusive community moving forward. The list is long, but I want to highlight a few items below.

-On Friday, November 3 at 2:30p.m. in the CELTSS Center (HH 208), CELTSS is sponsoring a faculty round table discussion focusing on how to talk to classes about the acts of racism that occurred on campus. CELTSS faculty also met with Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Millie Gonzalez to plan joint programming on diversity and inclusion in teaching and advising, including a regular series of workshops.

-Campus Police have reached out to two different facilitators to arrange for additional training for officers on responding to incidents of bias and racism.

-The Dean of Students Office is looking to include an anti-bias module from EverFi with the AlcoholEDU and Haven trainings offered over the summer for incoming students. The anti-bias module would begin the week after orientation, with the other two continuing in August, and would be made available to employees as well.

-Next Monday we will be holding a University-wide Unity workshop to talk about concrete actions steps the University has taken so far and also to work on other opportunities and ideas that require partnerships across different areas of campus. Unlike the original forum we held, this is designed to be an interactive event. I hope you can join us.

I cannot emphasize it enough – FSU has ZERO tolerance for acts of racism. We are all saddened and distressed by what has gone on in recent weeks, but I believe our actions and resolve in the face of this racism will make us a stronger community.

Sincerely,

Javier Cevallos, PhD

President

Friday, October 20, 2017

Police investigation update: Police have interviewed more than 52 students in Larned Hall and followed up on three anonymous tips that came into the FSU tip line. Parietal logs were also examined and it was determined that one person was signed in as a guest during both incidents. After being interviewed by police, it was determined that this person was not involved. At this time, police have not identified a suspect.

Police are contacting an agency to examine the handwriting from both incidents to determine if is more likely than not that they were both perpetrated by the same person.

Students targeted by the racist slurs have been updated on the investigation and informed by police that safety escorts can be made available to them at night. Officers have also begun stopping in Larned Hall three times per shift to check on things and Residence Life has increased monitoring in the area.

Police have been in contact with the Anti-Defamation League with regard to scheduling updated best practice training for officers investing bias/hate incidents. 

Brad Medeiros

Police Chief

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dear Families,

I’m reaching out to you directly because I felt it was important to follow up on two incidents of racism that recently occurred on campus. Racist slurs were discovered written in the same location in one of our residence halls on October 13th and October 15th. Police are investigating a possible link between the two incidents, which targeted African American students.

Upon each of these incidents being reported, they were immediately referred to the University’s Bias Incident Response Team, as well as University Police. Student and Residential Life staff and resources were also made available to those impacted by these hateful acts.

I want you to know that Framingham State University has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to racism and that the safety and security of our students is our number one priority. Police are conducting a wide-ranging investigation to determine who is responsible for this vile activity. If caught, this person(s) will face student conduct charges, likely including expulsion from the University, as well as potential state and federal criminal charges.

This behavior is in contrast to the mission and core values of Framingham State University. We held a campus-wide meeting on Monday, Oct. 16th, to hear the concerns of students and unite in rejecting racism and hatred. The meeting was very well attended and we received many good suggestions from students on how we can address and prevent incidents of racism on campus moving forward.

We also have met with students who feel targeted by the racism to offer them any accommodations they require to feel safer on campus. Framingham State has many resources available to students in need of support, including University Police, the Center for Inclusive Excellence, the Dean of Students Office, Campus Ministry, and the Counseling Center.

In response to these incidents, the University has established a webpage to keep all parties informed of the timeline of steps that have been taken and communications that have gone out to the community. The webpage can be found at www.framingham.edu/racism-response.

Framingham State remains committed to providing a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community where individuals of differing cultures and perspectives are respected, valued, and supported. As a community, we will all play a role in moving our campus forward.

If you have any questions or concerns about the University’s response to this situation, please contact the Enrollment and Student Development Office at 508-626-4926 or the Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement at 508-626-4512.

Sincerely,

F. Javier Cevallos, PhD

President

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dear Students,

I want to thank those of you who attended our open forum yesterday to discuss the recent bias incidents that have occurred on our campus.

As tough as the discussion was, I believe it was a significant step in the direction of making good change.  I want to thank you for your openness and frankness. I am continuously in awe of your abilities for self-expression.

I heard a number of ideas you highlighted during the session about changes you would like to see in the academic programs, and so to take the next step regarding those kinds of changes, we invite you to a “listening forum” on Thursday evening (this week, Oct. 19), 6:00-7:30 pm, in the Alumni Room (McCarthy Center).  We are working on plans and initiatives for the new five-year Academic Affairs Strategic Plan, and it would be so good to hear more about the kinds of changes you would like to see.  The timing is important, as we need to hear the ideas for new initiatives by the middle of November. It would be great to be able to listen to you specifically speak about your ideas related to new programs (majors, minors, courses, opportunities) and changes you would like to see in the current programs.

The plan for the evening is that we simply listenYou talk.  We will keep track of all of your suggestions and create a chart online (website) that shows the progress updates on a regular basis.

I also would like to create a student advisory committee for Academic Affairs.  More on that soon.

We need your help and suggestions.  It matters.

So, here are the details:

Thursday night, October 19.

Academic Affairs Strategic Planning Listening Forum

6:00-7:30 pm

Alumni Room

Sandwiches and Desserts

Thanks!

Linda Vaden-Goad, Ph.D.

Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dear Community,

Today we had an open forum for students to express themselves and to learn more information about the racist incidents that have plagued our campus.

For those that were there – thank you for your honesty and bravery. We heard you and together we will bring about the change and healing on our campus.

For those of you who could not attend, I share with you information that I distributed at the meeting: https://fsudice.blogspot.com/2017/10/framingham-state-response-to-racist.html. There is some basic information about the incidents and our response so far. In addition, included are some ideas on what you can do and what we will do.

I would also like to share some of the comments/ideas shared at the open forum today. My apologies if I did not capture all of the comments:

Concerns about not discussing these incidents in the classroom.

These hateful words trigger more hate and can divide us.

We should have these conversations every day. In fact, for some they do talk about it every day because it is a fact of life for them.

We should be proactive and not wait until there is an incident to have an open forum.

Stop your peers from telling “harmless jokes”. They are not harmless and they lead to incidents like what we are experiencing.

Students need to know that their professors have their backs. They want faculty to attend these forums.

Some felt that there is a lack of community; that there is segregation (by choice) on campus.

Students need to feel peace on campus, to feel safe, to be heard.

One student expressed his devotion toward his brotherhood and urged us to be united and not divided.

Another expressed the need for stricter policies regarding anti-discrimination.

Another expressed distrust toward the police and wanted more student oversight to help prevent these incidents.

Another expressed that there should be more mental health support for black students.

Many students urged each other to stand up against racism.

Many students expressed that it white students should educate themselves about issues of racism and should not expect black students to educate them.

Another felt that there is a great divide. To counter this, there should be mandatory training on issues of racism (like the online mandatory trainings about the misuse of alcohol and drugs.)

Several students felt that the media should have been allowed to be present for the entire forum.

Some express that emails are not enough.

Another wanted to know what are we doing to protect the two students who were targeted.

One student expressed how he can empathize with being a victim of prejudice because he experienced prejudice because of his religion.

Many students expressed how angry and frustrated they are upon learning about the incidents.

One students thanked her professor who canceled his class so that his students can attend the forum. She wanted to see more faculty encourage students to attend these open forums by providing extra credit and having them post on discussion boards in Blackboard.

One student said that she was scared for her life.

Another wanted more diversity in our curriculum.

One student encouraged students to start a movement.

Two faculty members made comments as well. One professor acknowledged that there have been improvements in more students of color on campus. She challenged more faculty to attend these forums and talk about racism in class.

One student said she was tired of racism. And another commented, “I am Black every day.”

So clearly there is more work we need to do and more community discussions to be held in order to bring about change.

I would like to share some resources that you might not be aware of:

The Center for Inclusive Excellence is a safe, welcoming space devoted to host discussions about diversity and inclusion. Headed by Chon’tel Washington, Director of Inclusive Excellence Initiatives, the CIE hosts trainings on:

  • Brave Space
  • Exploring Identities
  • Inclusive Excellence 101

The CIE hosts weekly Community Conversations on a variety of topics. The CIE is also a space where student clubs and the Council for Diversity and Inclusion hold their meetings. You can use the space to host discussions and events as well.

Finally, I encourage you to share your ideas and feel empowered to create change. Most importantly, we want you to feel welcomed, respected and safe. Please do not hesitate to contact me.

#hateisnotaFramilyvalue,

Millie González

Interim Chief Officer of Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dear FSU Community,

I’m writing to inform you that the University discovered a second racial slur on Sunday morning, written between 10:30 and 11 a.m. in a residence hall. It occurred at the same location as the incident on Friday and police are investigating a possible connection.

This behavior is unacceptable and we are going to do everything within our power to determine who is responsible and hold them accountable. It is our highest priority for students to feel welcome, respected and safe on campus.

Now, more than ever, it is important that we come together as a community to condemn this behavior, address your questions and concerns, and show our support for one another. I have instructed that Monday’s All-University Meeting, which was originally scheduled to discuss our 5-Year Strategic Plan in the McCarthy Center, instead be moved to the Dwight Hall Performing Arts Center and used as an open forum to discuss this issue. I strongly encourage everyone to attend the forum, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. As a community, we will work to prevent these incidents and the divisiveness they breed, so we can move forward and heal.

Framingham State University draws strength from its diversity. We are an institution where individuals of differing cultures, perspectives, and experiences are welcomed, respected, valued and supported. We must not allow those with hate in their hearts to divide us. The best way to stand up to this type of vile behavior is by uniting as a community against it.

To those students who feel targeted by these actions, we are here for you. I encourage you to take advantage of the many resources we have on campus if you need someone to speak with, including the Center for Inclusive Excellence, the Counseling Center, Campus Police, Human Resources, the Campus Clergy and the Dean of Students Office.

I also urge anyone with information regarding these incidents to contact University Police at 508-626-4911. You may send in an anonymous tip by texting 67283 with “FSUTIP” in the body of the message.

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

F. Javier Cevallos, PhD

President

Friday, October 13, 2017

Dear FSU Community,

I am writing to inform you about an incident that occurred in a residence hall on Friday afternoon. A flyer posted on a student’s door referencing the Black Student Union was discovered with a racist slur written on it. This incident is currently being investigated as a hate crime by campus police.

Framingham State University has zero tolerance for racism in any form and I know our community joins me in condemning this behavior. Framingham State is, and will always be, a community committed to tolerance, diversity, inclusion, and respect toward everyone.

This incident is deeply disturbing and we are going to do everything we can to determine the party responsible. That person(s) will face serious student conduct charges, which could include expulsion from the University, as well as potential criminal charges.    

It is important that we unite as a community in condemning this behavior. We will be meeting with members of the residential hall this evening. Details regarding a campus-wide community forum next week to address this issue are forthcoming.

In solidarity, 

Millie González

Interim Chief Officer of Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement