Investigation found person potentially responsible for racist language written on Bender Library whiteboard
Office of the Dean of Students determining potential violations of conduct code
American University officials announced that an investigation identified a person potentially responsible for a racist message found written on a Bender Library white board more than a week ago, according to a Monday email.
The email from Fanta Aw and Bronté Burleigh-Jones did not specify what was written on the white board. According to photos obtained by The Eagle, the words “Black people suck” were written on the whiteboard.
Aw, vice president of campus life, inclusive excellence and undergraduate enrollment and Burleigh-Jones, chief financial officer and treasurer, wrote in the email that racist language is “unacceptable” and harmful, especially during Black History Month. The incident was referred to the Office of the Dean of Students, which is determining whether violations of the code of conduct occurred, according to the email from Aw and Burleigh-Jones.
“Racism is despicable and has no place in any community,” the email said. “We have ongoing work to build an inclusive society and address harm and bias when they occur.”
The incident occurred on the second floor of Bender Library on a white board. After the words were reported to library staff and the AU Police Department, they documented the scene, started the investigation process and removed the writing. According to the email, the words were on the white board for less than 90 minutes before they were found.
The potential perpetrator was identified through video footage and other evidence. The email stated that the resolution process will include educating the community about the impact of these actions and “engaging the community members involved,” but provided no further details of what that entails.
Although the incident occurred a week ago, the email said officials proceeded with the investigation to find available information and understand the impact on the community. The email also said the University works to balance providing “immediate communication” with limited information and sending emails once there is more detailed information from the investigation.
“We do not always get it right, but we take a thorough approach, and we welcome your feedback,” the email said.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. This article was edited by Zoe Bell, Abigail Pritchard and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Natasha LaChac.