NAACP Chapter Calls on UConn Administration to 'Apply the Proper Justice' After Students Filmed Shouting N-Word

After two apparently unrelated racist incidents involving University of Connecticut (UConn) students, the NAACP University of Connecticut executive board called on the administration to investigate and "apply the proper justice."

One of the incidents was reported to the Connecticut State Police and allegedly involved two Delta Epsilon Psi members who were accused of calling a student a racial slur at an off-campus party October 12. Another incident, which was caught on camera October 11, showed three male students walking through the parking lot of the Charter Oak Apartments, which is on-campus student housing, screaming the N-word.

Students voiced their frustrations to university officials in a meeting Sunday night and by Monday morning, The Daily Campus, UConn's student newspaper, published a letter from the NAACP UConn chapter's leaders that pressured the university to investigate and "apply the proper justice."

"As representatives for students of color on this campus, we are on high alert," the NAACP UConn executive board wrote in the letter. "If the university does not adequately address and handle these occurrences of racism appropriately, it will create a culture in which racism is tolerated and normalized."

Several organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, have expressed concerns about the rise in hate crimes and white supremacists propaganda on college campuses over the past few years. The rise in incidents coupled with social media's ability to cast a national spotlight increases pressure on universities to take swift and corrective measures when a racially-charged incident occurs.

The NAACP chapter called for the university to work with the organization to create specific guidelines in the Student Code of Conduct and consequences for racist and hate speech incidents. These consequences would be conveyed to students during a required First-Year Experience course.

"The use of hate speech is unacceptable," the NAACP UConn chapter wrote. "The actions made by the three individuals [and] members of Delta Epsilon Psi are highlights of bigotry and the regurgitation of white supremacy."

Stephanie Reitz, UConn's spokesperson, told Newsweek the university was taking the matter "very seriously" and that the event involving students shouting the racial slur was being reviewed and handled under the university's Bias Incident Protocol. The procedures require the UConn Police Department, Dean of Students Office, Community Standards, Office of Institutional Equity, Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, to jointly address the situation. Administrative and campus police investigations were also underway.

uconn naacp racist video n-word
University of Connecticut (UConn) main campus in Storrs, Connecticut. On Monday morning, the UConn NAACP executive board called for the administration to take action after two racially-charged incidents. Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty

Because the alleged incident involving fraternity members occurred off-campus, Reitz said the report is under the state police's jurisdiction. Although the investigation may be outside the university's jurisdiction, the NAACP UConn chapter said it still wants administrators to dole out punishments.

On the organization's list of demands was for Delta Epsilon Psi to issue a public apology and be disbanded for violating the university's discrimination policy and failing to uphold the Intercultural Greek Council standards.

Newsweek reached out to the Delta Epsilon Psi chapter at UConn but did not receive a response in time for publication.

The NAACP UConn executive board also requested a "large cluster hire" of black employees, including faculty, staff and police officers and for all of the demands to be fulfilled by spring 2020.

On Friday, UConn President Thomas Katsouleas sent an email to the UConn community announcing the school was launching a nationwide search for a chief diversity officer. He acknowledged the search followed the incident near the Charter Oak Apartments, which he called "deplorable and antithetical to the values of our community and the university as a whole."

"It is important that we remember that we get to decide who represents our community, and what behavior truly reflects who we are at UConn. To me, the best among us represent who we are – the 99%-plus who are good citizens and share our values, not the few who don't. This is a choice we get to make," Katsouleas said.

Correction, 6/18/21: Newsweek did not intend to imply that Nicholas Roy Cody, a member of the Delta Epsilon Psi fraternity, used a racial slur or acted in a racist manner in connection with the above-reported incidents. He did not. Nor was any member of the Delta Epsilon Psi fraternity involved in the Charter Oaks incident. Newsweek apologizes for any implication to the contrary.