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UNH seeking diversity officer in wake of George Floyd killing, ‘disturbing’ social media post – New Haven Register


File photo of University of New Haven

File photo of University of New Haven

Photo: File Photo By Arnold Gold/Hearst Connecticut Media / File Photo By Hearst Connecticut Media

File photo of University of New Haven

File photo of University of New Haven

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WEST HAVEN – The University of New Haven is undertaking a search for a chief diversity officer, among other initiatives, in the wake of George Floyd’s death and “disturbing remarks on social media” from a student, according to a message sent by UNH president Steve Kaplan.

“I am heartbroken, and I am angry, at the ongoing injustice, police brutality, racial inequality, racism, and intolerance that continue to exist in our country,” Kaplan said. “Inaction and silence are not options.”

Kaplan wrote that new initiatives have been launched, in addition to hiring a diversity officer, including:

– A conversation Friday with a group of students who reached out under the umbrella OrganizeUNewHaven. Kaplan wrote that he expects it will lead to a wider collaboration “designed to, in their words, promote inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for the University of New Haven community.” They will be joined by Lorenzo Boyd, director of the University’s center for Advanced Policing and assistant provost of diversity and inclusion.

– Incorporating required classes and co-curricular programming across the university curriculum that is focused on fostering meaningful dialogue on race, diversity, and inclusion and combating racism and intolerance.

– Looking at policies and procedures regarding identification, investigation, and resolution of incidents of racism, bigotry, and intolerance.

– Having the university leadership team develop a plan – with deadlines and expectations – to “quickly and extensively” diversify the faculty and staff represent students.

In the same message, Kaplan wrote that an independent internal investigation has been launched into a student registered for graduate classes.

A UNH spokesman confirmed the university is aware of a petition asking for UNH to revoke that student’s undergraduate degree. He also confirmed the university has received several emails “asking for and demanding the revocation of the individual’s degree.”

The student was not named; the university did not reveal what the social media post said.

Kaplan wrote in his message to the UNH community: “We have made the decision to suspend the individual’s acceptance into a graduate program at the University of New Haven (which I just learned about yesterday), to suspend any of the individual’s remaining athletic eligibility, and to suspend the individual’s right to attend either the Class of 2020 virtual commencement ceremony in July or the scheduled in-person commencement ceremony in December, pending the results of these investigations.”

Kaplan wrote that remarks posted on social media Friday are, “the antithesis of everything we stand for. The incident is one we are addressing with utmost seriousness.”

Kaplan also wrote about Floyd’s death in his message to the UNH community.

“I have heard from many of our students as well as alumni and friends of the University about the brutal death of George Floyd and other African Americans,” Kaplan wrote. “I have heard their anger, frustration, and despair, but also their concerns that the University has not enacted more effective responses to combat systemic racism. I also saw in their communications words of hope for better days ahead.”

“Ultimately, we must each play an active role in these efforts and in creating an environment we are proud of,” Kaplan wrote. “What happened to George Floyd – and to far too many other African Americans across the country – is disgraceful and unacceptable.

“My commitment to you is that we, as a University, will play a prominent role in shaping the change that is needed. The time to act is now,” he said.

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