H-SC Campus Coming Together

Published 4:40 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FARMVILLE – In the days since the racially charged election night incident at Hampden-Sydney College the campus has “come together,” according to a message to the college's community from president Dr. Christopher B. Howard.

In public meetings and small groups, the H-SC family has been trying “to understand both the causes and impact of this event and to condemn the actions of the few who abused those who should be their brothers and brought shame to our College,” Dr. Howard reports.

“Beginning with the Town Hall Meeting on November 7, the Hampden-Sydney community has acted to reaffirm that we will be no less than an inclusive, respectful and civil community,” he notes.

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H-SC's president declares, “We are going through a difficult time, but we will be better; I promise you that.”

According to an official statement from the college, five students have been identified for possible violations of the Hampden-Sydney Code of Student Conduct and will come before the Student Court, with proceedings beginning after H-SC's Thanksgiving break.

The names of the five students, per Student Court protocols, have not been released.

The November 6 incident was described thusly by Dr. Howard in a November 7 email to the campus community.

“At approximately eleven minutes after midnight, the Dean of Students, other members of the College faculty and staff, and I received an email from students at the Minority Student Union (MSU) stating a large group had gathered outside their house (on fraternity circle)…The members of the group set off fireworks and threw bottles evidently in response to the presidential election results. At some point, members of the group shouted racial epithets at the men in MSU, threatening them with physical violence. The members of MSU notified campus security. After speaking with Chief Gee on the phone, I walked to Fraternity Circle with Dean Klein (Dean of Student Affairs David Klein) and spent approximately one hour meeting with students…to determine what happened.”

Dr. Howard said in his statement this week that, “with the investigation by campus police completed and the matter in the hands of the Student Court, we need to respect due process and to have confidence in the student judicial system.”

H-SC's president noted that “student leaders have stepped up” following the incident, and he cited a specific statement written and signed by six key student leaders, quoting this passage:

“As a brotherhood, we consider the students of this campus a collective family regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status…The acts of the night of Tuesday, November 6, 2012, fall far short of the tradition of men at Hampden-Sydney.”

According to a copy of the statement obtained by The Herald, the student leaders also promised, “we will not rest until we have rooted out this evil from our school” and concluded the statement by affirming that “the overwhelming majority of this campus will not be defined by the actions of a few; those involved are not our brothers and have betrayed Hampden-Sydney.”

On November 13, ninety heads of student organizations gathered for the President's Leadership Council, which was opened by Thomas Allen '60, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. These men, Dr. Howard pointed out, represented the full spectrum of student organizations and focused on how the Hampden-Sydney community should move forward.

“We have seen strong signs of student organizations pulling together in mutual support,” H-SC's president said.

Student leaders, he added, are talking together to improve understanding between fraternity and non-fraternity men who reside on “The Circle.”

On November 18, eighteen top student leaders met for three hours under the guidance of Jonathan Zul, CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities…both to address student concerns and to plan a community meeting the week following Thanksgiving break.

“I have asked for and received preliminary recommendations from the College's Intercultural Affairs Committee (IAC) for programs and activities that will promote an inclusive, respectful and civil community,” Dr. Howard states.

H-SC is also revising its Good Men Plan to include specific educational programming for incoming students on civility, respect and inclusiveness.