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UConn Reacts To Racist Incident With New Measures To Improve Diversity, Inclusion On Campus

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio

The University of Connecticut is moving forward with a series of initiatives to help the Storrs campus heal after a racist incident that drew outrage from many students.

Earlier this week, two white UConn students were arrested after they were identified on a viral video shouting racial slurs as they walked through the parking lot of Charter Oak apartments, an on-campus residence hall.

During a meeting of the UConn Board of Trustees Wednesday, University President Thomas Katsouleas said the incident has affected the student body.

“I listened to the students on Monday and their march to the center of campus, and I could see and hear and feel their pain,” said Katsouleas. “My heart breaks for them, and for our entire community, because an insult to any group or any identity is an insult to all of us and our core values.”

Katsouleas said that while bigotry and racism clearly exist at UConn, the administration and the board are committed to "visible progress to achieving the environment and culture we value."

“One in which each individual is appreciated for their unique contribution to the life and mission of this great university,” said Katsouleas.

In addition to the formation of a student-led diversity advisory council, all of the deans of the various UConn schools will participate in racial diversity and inclusion strategic planning sessions at a retreat next month, according to Katsouleas.

“We will begin the strategic planning process for diversity and inclusion which will roll up into the overall strategic plan which I promise to deliver to the board next academic year,” said Katsouleas.

Katsouleas told the board that the search for a new Chief Diversity Officer includes input from the student Senate Diversity Committee, the University Diversity Committee, and the directors of the campus cultural centers.

“I gained their perspectives on the structure of this position, and the attributes we will be looking for in the next leader of this position,” he said.

On Friday Katsouleas will meet with students at UConn's African American Cultural Center to talk about the incident.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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