April 14, 2016
Dear UT Community,
Two weeks ago, I wrote to you about a hateful incident that happened in the West Campus area two months ago in which several men, including a UT Austin student, were accused of throwing bottles and using racial epithets toward another one of our students.
I write today to let you know that the student who was charged by police in the attack is no longer on campus. I suspended him, and he will not be eligible to return to UT Austin until 2017.
I have reviewed this awful incident, spoken with the victim and heard from others in our campus community about it. I continue to gain a deeper understanding of the concerns raised by those who do not feel fully welcome at UT, and I have seen the need for changes that can reinforce our university's values of openness and inclusion.
Last month, I gave the Dean of Students additional authority to expedite the investigative process into allegations of violence and to impose interim suspensions on students accused of such behavior. I will also ask the Dean of Students to assess the sanctions that the university generally imposes on those who use violence as a tool to discriminate.
I will not tolerate hateful acts at UT Austin and want to know if the sanctions we are imposing when hate turns into violence are appropriate and clearly stated.
To bolster our commitment to transparency, I also plan to update UT Austin policies to make clear that the university will publicly release information about the disciplinary actions taken against students who have committed such criminal acts. This disclosure is permitted under federal privacy laws and will allow our students to know when justice has been served.
We will make clear the consequences whenever UT students perpetrate violent acts of discrimination, such as what we saw in February.
This has been a difficult semester for us as a community. And we must remain resolute in our efforts to support one another, to work quickly to respond to intolerable behavior and to strive to make UT a campus where all are safe to learn and thrive.
Gregory L. Fenves