University of Richmond Update

February 2020

Dear Members of the University Community,

I am choosing to dedicate my quarterly letter to speak with you regarding a critically important issue that has occupied a great deal of my attention over the last several weeks.

A number of recent hateful incidents on our campus have profoundly impacted our community, including several cases in which students were targeted with hateful epithets written on their residence hall room doors. I immediately denounced these acts as an affront to all we stand for — and have worked for — as a University long committed to fostering a thriving and inclusive community. We are providing care and support to those affected, and the University of Richmond Police Department is actively engaged in investigating these incidents to ensure our students’ safety.

In the wake of these incidents, I have met with students to listen to their hurt, anger, and concerns. During one meeting, a young black woman told me a story about being singled out in class and asked to speak for all black folks. Her story was at once surreal and familiar, mirroring one of my own experiences as a college student over 50 years ago — 50 years ago! It pains me that students of color are still dealing with many of the same issues I faced as a student, and I know others in our community have found themselves reliving their own painful memories.

As difficult as these past few weeks have been, I have been proud of how our students — and indeed our campus community — have mobilized to demonstrate that there is no room for hate at UR. From a moving silent protest by more than 100 students at a Spider men’s basketball game, to a student-organized speak-out on our University forum, to a campus-wide community meeting that brought together more than 500 students, faculty, staff, and local alumni, Spiders have sent a unified and powerful message that we can and will succeed in becoming the more inclusive community we aspire to be.

Today, I share with you the email I wrote to our students late last week, reaffirming my resolve and outlining new actions we will take to accelerate our ongoing efforts to foster a thriving, inclusive university community. Healing from these incidents will take time and effort — for those directly impacted and for our entire community — but if we all commit to uphold the dignity and worth of each individual, I am confident we can achieve meaningful and lasting change.

I am grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from alumni and parents, including the members of the University of Richmond Alumni Association Board (URAA), who have been in frequent contact with me and other administrators and have offered their help and support. As they indicated in a message to me this week, “we vehemently condemn acts of hatred or bigotry of any kind…[and] our Alumni Association offers support of the University, its leadership, and its student organizations as our community addresses this disheartening situation.” I very much look forward to continuing to engage with alumni at the URAA Board meeting next week.

As I have often said recently, an act of hatred against one of us is an act that affronts all of us. Your support of our efforts is vital to us, and most especially to the students who have been affected by these cowardly and hateful acts. We are eager to involve you and our entire community in our ongoing work to ensure all students can experience a sense of belonging and reach their full potential, and we will communicate opportunities for engagement and support in due course. Thank you again for everything you have done and will continue to do to help us live up to our promise as an inclusive intercultural community.

Sincerely,

Ronald A. Crutcher

President