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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

A Disturbing Increase in anti-Black Racist Incidents

Thursday, September 23, 2021

From Nefertiti A. Walker, Vice Chancellor & Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Equity & Inclusion 

Dear Campus Community:

I write to you today in response to an increase in anti-Black racist incidents happening on our campus, all of which are being targeted at African American and Black students. To begin, an anti-Black racist email was sent to numerous Black-centered student groups. The content of these emails is vile, blatantly racist, and violently offensive. In addition, there have been other acts of anti-Black hate imposed on our community through the “Contact Us” online forms of registered student organizations, as well as an incident involving the offender driving by and yelling an anti-Black racist epithet at a group of Black students. All of these anti-Black racist acts run in stark contrast to who we strive to be, which is a campus where all students are welcomed and feel a strong sense of belonging. We condemn all acts of anti-Black racism and will work to diminish their intent to cause harm to Black students on campus.

Since hearing of these incidents, we have begun a multi-unit collaborative investigation into the hateful acts. We have also created opportunities to support the students directly impacted.

In the investigation of the anti-Black racist acts, UMPD is actively working with UMass IT to uncover the identity of the sender of these emails. This exhaustive investigation is ongoing.

In supporting Black students impacted and targeted by these emails, the following is ongoing:

  • Administrators from multiple campus units have followed up and connected the students to campus resources
  • Student affairs and campus life administrators have held office hours dedicated to giving affected students space to gather for dialogue and support.
  • All students impacted have received emails, calls and outreach from leaders within the administration in multiple campus units to dialogue, receive support and create opportunities for healing.
  • Staff working with student groups targeted have been updated and provided direction on how to support impacted students.

Our priority is both to support our impacted students and investigate these incidents to the fullest extent. Both processes are ongoing.

In addition, we would like to revisit our process for intaking acts of hate and bias incidents on campus. Bias incidents should be reported through the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Once the incident is reported, it is processed and managed in collaboration with campus leadership. All administrative units work in collaboration to ensure our campus is safe, respectful and inclusive.

We stand in solidarity and support of our Black students, and in opposition to any anti-Black racism. Please continue to report these hateful acts, even if the act is not directed to you. Active Bystander engagement is important to eradicating racism on our campus. Students who have experienced or witnessed biased activity may seek support and be referred to the Dean of Students Office through the Student Support Request & Referral online form. This link includes additional support resources for you or someone who has been impacted by anti-Black racism on our campus.

Sincerely,

Nefertiti A. Walker, Ph.D.
She/Her/Hers
Vice Chancellor & Chief Diversity Officer
Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) | UMass Amherst

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