Statement about Pride Week vandalism

Hateful and biased behavior has no place on our campus.

Campus community,

This week, we learned of two acts of hate and bias during the University of Utah’s celebration of Pride Week. Vandals attempted to interfere with the advertising of an event at the Marriott Library and defaced the Block U outside the University Campus Store, which has been wrapped in the colors of the Progress Pride Flag. Details of both incidents and the actions taken by the university are posted on the Racist & Bias Incident Response Team’s website.

Each year during Pride Week, our university community is asked to pause and consider if we are re-examining and transforming the frameworks that prevent many of our LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff from feeling fully accepted and seen on our campus. Inclusion is not simply saying “welcome,” and offering resources. True inclusion creates a sense of safety and belonging for a full range of bodies, beings and identities.

Today, we must acknowledge the harm and hurt our trans and non-binary campus peers experience in the wake of these incidents. But simply acknowledging that pain is not enough. As a Pride Week message from our Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion division reminded us this week:

“The disappointment and heaviness of fear cannot be swept away with a simple nod of acknowledgment. If we are to ensure that every student and colleague knows they are valued and that the U is their home, our commitment to create an equitable and inclusive campus must be vigorous, and we must act every day.”

It is also worth noting that the university’s LGBT Resource Center receives hateful, offensive comments on posts it shares through social media or via email on a regular basis, but given the increased positive attention of Pride Week and wider sharing of posts, the center has seen an uptick in the number of hateful comments and messages through social media. Both this harassment and the vandalism of the block U are hateful responses to the greater visibility of the LBTQIA+ community on campus.

Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion professionals are constantly working to improve the ways we show up to support each other and work to create a more inclusive and welcoming world. Hateful and biased behavior has no place on our campus. We are committed to rooting them out and continuing our work to create a welcoming and safe campus dedicated to respect, diversity, inclusivity and belonging.

Sincerely,

Lori McDonald
Vice President for Student Affairs

MaryAnn Villarreal
Vice President for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion


If you have experienced or are impacted by biased or hateful behavior on our campus, we want to know so that we can address those acts quickly and provide support. Incidents can be reported to the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team here.

For trans and non-binary students, the LGBT Resource Center has online Trans Resources or can be visited in person in the Union. The Women’s Resource Center and University Counseling Center can provide confidential counseling services.

For trans and non-binary employees, Human Resources offers the Employee Assistance Program for counseling support. Anyone who is transitioning can seek additional support from HR for name changes and to work with colleagues on your team, if necessary. Additionally, the HR team has updated systems to include individuals’ chosen name, which includes the campus directory, Kronos, Bridge, new employee applications and more.

If you experience harassment or discrimination, visit the Office of Equal Opportunity, and please report.

To colleagues who are cisgender and are seeking education, The Trevor Project is a great place to start. U of U Health has created a Transgender Health Program, which is a great resource for trans and non-binary people, and also hosts several seminars that are educational for those interested in supporting the trans community.

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