An allegation of racism including complaints of students in KKK robes and “poop on a Black student’s door” has the University of Utah investigating the claims going into the new year.
“We talk about generational trauma, and we have another generation of our students going through this,” said Darlene McDonald, an outspoken activist in Salt Lake City, about the latest allegations for racism at a Utah school.
McDonald has shined a light on a series of racist incidents within the last few months in schools across Utah from kindergarten through college. On December 19, 2021, University officials learned of an Instagram post which stated, “university of Utah students walked through residence halls in KKK uniforms and smeared poop on a Black student’s door.”
The alleged incidents go back to the fall and on Sept. 1, 2021, a Black student reported they found a paper towel with a brown substance on their door handle. On Oct. 2, 2021, in the same dorm building, a resident assistant reported overhearing students in an elevator saying there were people in white KKK-like attire trying to recruit people.
University President Taylor Randall admits the school should have launched an investigation sooner after first learning of the alleged incidents and said, “they will improve their internal communication process” moving forward.
The university says it reviewed surveillance video and interviewed people in the dorm building since learning of the reported incidents, and they’ve since handed the investigation over to the university police department.
In a statement, President Randall says in part: “Acts like this strike fear and frustration in our hearts. … This is the third incident reported in as many weeks and we understand that the community, especially our Black students, are feeling exhausted, targeted and disconnected. … The university strongly condemns the KKK and white supremacy. … We will continue to name racist acts, investigate and hold perpetrators accountable.”
“The statement that they put out gave me a lot of hope that they took this very seriously, it was very strong, it was very direct, they named it and they did not hold anything back,” McDonald said of the university’s response.
The NAACP Salt Lake City Chapter president Jeanetta Williams says the organization is working closely with the police and the university as the investigation continues.
“There are great concerns of what’s going on and why is it happening so we want to make sure we protect our young folks in particular and they don’t feel they can’t go out in the public without being harassed or being bullied or being in schools without being bullied,” said Jeanetta Williams.
University associate director of communications Rebecca Walsh says the investigation is ongoing.
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