I posted the text of these letters prior to their availability on Virginia’s web site. I am retaining the text but the title of each letter now links to the letter on the Virginia web site.
A Statement from President John T. Casteen III
An incident reported last night involving one of our students has left many, African American students in particular, feeling vulnerable and afraid.
This intolerable act insults and offends this community’s core values, including racial tolerance, civility, and mutual respect. Our first obligation is to close ranks around our students to ensure their safety and to reassure them of the community’s protection and support.
I ask all members of the University to raise their voices against acts of intolerance and violence—whether they are committed by one member of the community or by many.
Last night’s setback notwithstanding, we continue our work to create an open and civil community. That work now takes on a new urgency to which we will respond with renewed resolve and vigor.
The University Police Department is investigating this incident, and we are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
This is not the first reported incident in recent months of intolerance of this general kind. The decades-long efforts to make this University an authentic cross-section of what we are as a people, and the hard-earned progress made toward this goal, are too important to be cast aside by senseless acts.
February 26, 2003
I write to you with a deep sense of anguish. Early this morning, a member of our community was attacked near her car parked in Poe Alley. The victim was Daisy Lundy, a second-year student who is one of the two candidates for Student Council president. After being treated at the U.Va. emergency room, Ms. Lundy was released and is now recovering from what were diagnosed as minor injuries.
The University is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Due to the circumstances of the attack and the racially derogatory statement made by the attacker at the time of the crime, University Police are investigating it as a hate crime. They have issued a press release stating that the assailant is reported to be a heavy-set white male wearing a dark coat, light pants and a dark hat. The police are investigating the crime and urge anyone with information to call 924-7166 or 977-4000.
As word of this horrific incident has spread, members of the University community are shocked and outraged that such a cowardly, apparently racially-motivated act could occur in our midst. Ms. Lundy, who is African American and Korean, had been involved in a highly publicized election for Student Council president. In the past few days, she had experienced an increasing sense of concern after receiving hang-up telephone calls, one of which included intimidating language and profanity. She had reported the latter to the police.
This morning’s attack draws anger and sadness. It should. Our institutional values do not condone physical violence, racism, intimidation or terror. Yet, we must realistically admit that something very wrong and terrible has occurred in a place we believed to be reasonably secure and above such baseless, violent acts.
To African American students, I want to acknowledge the range of emotions you may be feeling right now—anger, hurt, powerlessness, isolation. You may also feel unsafe or even unsure of your role as a student of the University. We are committed to providing whatever support you want or need right now. If you need to talk, if you need to be angry—we will not turn away. We (and I am especially talking about the professionals in Student Affairs) will listen because we all need to learn from this incident and fully deal with the ugliness it represents. This incident potentially changes us all, but it does not change the initiatives and goals we already have begun working on to make this a more tolerant, multicultural community—one that embraces differences and recoils at the mere suggestion of violence or terrorism directed at any of its members.
In coming weeks, we cannot freeze one another out or allow existing divisiveness to grow deeper. We must channel the anger in constructive ways, toward the diversity work that now demands our attention in a new way. Each of us has a responsibility to extend a hand, to seek ways to bring our community together and bridge the divides that we know exist.
This incident has saddened and angered many throughout the community. Those emotions were evident this morning as I met with the University’s academic deans to brief them on what had happened. Student leaders, including the current leadership of Student Council, have expressed the same reaction and are deeply sorrowful that a fellow student would be victimized in this way.
As a means of expressing reactions to this incident, a community meeting—“Community Reflection and Response”—will take place this afternoon from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. in Newcomb Ballroom. Karen Holt, director of Equal Opportunity Programs, will moderate the session. Following the community meeting, small group sessions will be available at 6 p.m. for those who wish to continue the discussion.
All offices within the Division of Student Affairs, including African-American Affairs, Dean of Students, Residence Life, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Newcomb Hall and the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, will be available to students for small-group and one-on-one discussion or counseling.
We have some hard work ahead, but people at all levels of the institution are committed to bringing about positive change that goes beyond mere talk about diversity. With safety and support as first priorities, my office will be working with President Casteen, the vice presidents, deans and leaders throughout the University to address your concerns and ensure an environment that is as safe and civil as possible.
Patricia M. Lampkin
Vice President for Student Affairs