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Ekstrom Library

Statement on Bias Incidents in Ekstrom Library: Statement

February 3, 2021

There have been several recent incidents concerning disparate treatment of African-American students and Libraries personnel by campus security while in Ekstrom Library. Even one such report would be concerning but the fact that several reports have come to me directly or indirectly causes great concern. I want our libraries to be safe, welcoming, and inclusive spaces. We must take action to ensure that this is the case for ALL of our students. Upon hearing the first report, I, and others in the Libraries, began conducting a series of conversations with others on campus including Dr. Faye Jones in the Office of Diversity and Equity, Chief Gary Lewis of ULPD, Dean of Students Michael Mardis, Provost Beth Boehm, and the Libraries Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group (DIAG). I appreciate the willingness of everyone involved in treating this matter quickly, seriously, and in seeking appropriate solutions. As a result of these conversations, we have taken some immediate action including:

  • In consultation with Chief Lewis, suspending ID card checks and reassigning security personnel under investigation
  • Supporting an HR investigation into the issue
  • Meeting with the SGA Senate to share information and hear first-hand student concerns
  • Having conversations surrounding what role is appropriate for campus security in our Libraries

These are our first steps but will not be our last. Our DIAG had already begun a series of equity walks to look into how our libraries can be better spaces. These will continue and we will act upon the findings. DIAG is also looking into how we might incorporate security personnel into the Libraries DEI training efforts going forward. I will continue to work with Chief Lewis in determining the role for campus security in the Libraries. Our DIAG will be working with the campus Diversity Council to help standardize campus reporting of bias incidents. If you experience a racial bias incident in the Libraries, I encourage you to report this so that we can follow up.

Robert E. Fox
Dean, University Libraries