Dear students, faculty and staff,

As you may know, this past Sunday morning, a noose was found in a residence hall elevator. The University of Illinois Police Department made an arrest Monday.

Regardless of the intent behind this incident, the fact that we are confronted by a symbol with such intense racist and violent connections is a difficult reminder of the damage that hatred and intolerance inflict on our entire community. To those like myself, who grew up in the South when Jim Crow laws were still in full force, this incident recalls memories of senseless violence and horrific acts carried out in the name of racist hatred. It is extremely upsetting that, more than a half century later, we are still facing symbols of hate that force another generation to ask why the color of your skin, the religion you practice or where your parents came from should make you a target of anyone’s anger or distrust.

We will not tolerate racism here at Illinois. We will not tolerate bigotry here at Illinois. We will not tolerate discrimination here at Illinois. We are committed to creating a university free of acts of intolerance, bias or prejudice. Incidents like this one remind us how much work remains for all of us to see that these words are always and truly practiced here at this university.

Housing staff and the University of Illinois Police Department (UIPD) responded quickly to this incident. UIPD immediately began an investigation that led to Monday’s arrest of a student. In addition to being subject to potential criminal prosecution, possible violations of the student code by individuals are also reviewed by our own Office for Student Conflict Resolution to determine any appropriate disciplinary action. The student is currently not allowed on campus property. 

We did communicate the incident to all students in our residence halls along with information about how they could access support resources. Additionally, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have begun a series of meeting opportunities to allow students safe places to discuss the incident and any concerns they have.

We aspire to be a beacon of inclusion and excellence. I want to assure all of our students, staff and faculty that we are fully conscious of the seriousness of incidents like this and the chilling effect they have on every single thing we do here. We will continue to use all of our resources to investigate and address incidents as quickly as possible.

The work of creating an inclusive environment is everyone’s responsibility. Whether faculty, students or staff, we each have a role to play in creating a positive climate. And we will endeavor to more broadly share news of incidents of intolerance and racism that occur on the campus in order to ensure that our entire community can come together to make everyone who comes here feel welcomed and respected.


Robert J. Jones

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