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Classes cancelled Thursday for demonstration, after racist comments directed at Viterbo student

Rick Solem

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Classes will be cancelled from 12:30-1:50 p.m. Thursday for a student demonstration, after two racist incidents at Viterbo University were directed at a student this week.

Temple

The incidents occurred Monday and Tuesday in the residence halls, where someone wrote racist comments on a female student’s door, as well as on social media.

One of those comments written on the door of the student said “leave our school.” Other hateful racist remarks directed at this student were screenshot from Snapchat.

“We are deeply saddened and troubled because we’ve had two hate-filled and racist incidents happening on campus this week,” Viterbo President, Dr. Glena Temple told WIZM on Wednesday evening. “So, we are currently supporting the victim of these attacks and we are actively investigating who might be involved in these terrible acts.”

After talking with WIZM, Temple shared a campus-wide email that said a student demonstration will take place in the Assisi Courtyard “in solidarity with the victim for the hateful acts and support our BIPOC community as a whole.”

Temple called it a heinous act. She told WIZM that racism and bigotry are never tolerated at the university and “hate absolutely has no place here.”

She said the events were totally inappropriate and added that Viterbo’s first priority is the safety of the victim, as well as the rest of the students and faculty.

“We are doing a formal investigation of this crime to identify the individual or individuals responsible and to be able to hold them accountable,” Temple added. “We are also engaged in many ongoing discussion on campus with our community to process and make sure these events don’t happen in the future.”

Temple concluded that Viterbo will address this situation further in multiple ways.

“A lot of work is underway and, again, our first priority is the victim of these attacks and the safety and well-being of our community,” Temple said.

Below is Temple’s full email to campus:


Members of the Viterbo Community: 

I write you this evening with an update on the hate incidents on our campus over the last few days. 

As indicated in the earlier email, our priority is with the student directly targeted in recent hate incidents on campus. The investigation process is progressing effectively and efficiently. We assure you that if/when we can identify the individual(s) responsible we will hold them accountable to student conduct violations and possible criminal behavior. As a reminder, if you have information regarding the incident, please report to Campus Safety, Residence Life, and/or Viterbo Speaks Up.” 

With this important work underway – some additional updates for you on short term action steps. 

  • Students have organized a demonstration at 12:30 tomorrow in Assisi Courtyard to be in solidarity with the victim for the hateful acts and support our BIPOC community as a whole. 
    • The administration of Viterbo University fully supports our students in this demonstration.
    • We are canceling on-campus classes from 12:30-1:50pm Thursday (tomorrow) to allow and encourage students to participate.
    • I encourage employees to consider participating in the demonstration and support student participation how ever they can (but be mindful this is a student event and their leadership voice and activism is important). 
  • We are planning multiple listening sessions for students of color at Viterbo and the student body as a whole, within the next few weeks 
  • Work is underway to plan several additional events this semester: 
    • A prayer vigil at 6PM Thursday focused on ending racism and hatred (more details tomorrow)
    • Educational activities for students, employees and faculty throughout the remaining six weeks of the semester
    • Opportunities for service and community-based activities to address hate, bias and racism 
    • Various activities, many organized by student groups, to demonstrate support for every member of our community regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation 
    • Action plan steps based on the LGBTQ+ student and employee listening sessions 

While this email focuses on the immediate steps forward,  further communication will outline the work that has been underway this year to build a more inclusive campus climate and our focus areas for next year. 

I have been truly touched by the many notes of support for our students and the offers of help I have received.  There will be many opportunities to get involved in this important work in the days and months ahead. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or ideas on how to support our students.

Glena Temple
President

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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