Dear Students and Members of the Faculty and Staff:
I am writing to inform you of two incidents that occurred on
campus yesterday, both of which should be of great concern to all of us.
First, a robbery occurred at knifepoint in one of our residence halls
(Tupper Hall). Second, within minutes of the robbery, UVM police detained at
gunpoint a student who was misidentified as a suspect. The alleged armed
robber was an African-American male. The student, who was handcuffed for a
brief time and then released, was an African-American female.
In response to these two incidents, I have set in motion the
· An immediate investigation of police conduct in the apprehension of the
student who was briefly detained: I expect the investigation to be thorough
and as swift as possible. I will provide for independent review of the
findings and will take appropriate action once they are finalized. Pending
the outcome of the investigation, the detaining officer has been reassigned
to office duty.
· An immediate review of security in our residence halls: I expect the
Office of Residential Life, in consultation with students and public safety
officials, to make recommendations of additional steps that might be taken
to increase the safety and security of students living on campus.
I have met personally with the student who was detained. We are
taking every step we can to ensure that she has every available support in
dealing with what was a deeply troubling experience. While not prejudging
the outcome of the investigation of police conduct, we all understand that
the detention of an innocent student raises serious questions about the
campus climate for persons of color.
I want to reaffirm the long-standing commitment of the
University of Vermont to providing a safe and secure learning environment
for all members of the campus community. In addition to reviewing both the
detention of the student and the security of the residence halls, we will
enlist the help of external experts to review and enhance all relevant
police procedures and training programs, particularly focusing on those that
address racial and ethnic issues and best practices for law enforcement in
an academic community. At the same time, I am reaching out to our students,
faculty, and staff-and especially to members of UVM's ALANA community-to
promote action-oriented dialogue aimed at the creation of a campus climate
supportive of true diversity and of our shared commitment to respect,
integrity, innovation, openness, justice, and responsibility.
The investigation of the robbery is continuing. We will inform
the community of the outcome of the investigations of yesterday's incidents
as well as of our efforts to address the larger issues of law enforcement on
campus, campus safety, and the climate for supporting a diverse community of