H-SC Racial Incident Linked To Election

Published 4:47 pm Thursday, November 8, 2012

HAMPDEN-SYDNEY – A racially charged incident occurred at Hampden-Sydney College late Tuesday night, apparently in response to the reelection of Barack Obama as president, according to a Wednesday morning email from H-SC president Dr. Christopher B. Howard to the Hampden-Sydney community.

There were reports of bottles thrown, racial epithets and threats of physical violence, according to Dr. Howard's email reporting the incident to the community.

A copy of that email was forwarded to The Herald, which had contacted the college about reports of an incident, by H-SC's Director of Marketing and Communications, Thomas H. Shomo, on Wednesday afternoon.

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That email reads:

“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 circile)…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, Dr. David A. Klein) and spent approximately one hour meeting with students…to determine what happened.

“I am terribly disappointed,” writes Dr. Howard, the first African-American president of H-SC, “with the students who participated in this harmful, senseless episode, including those men who stood idly by and watched it happen. There is no place for bigotry or racism of any kind on this campus. Dean Klein and I will be meeting with the leaders of various fraternities and MSU today to learn more about the events of last night. We will also work with leaders of student government, the Interfraternity Council and the Intercultural Affairs Committee to determine the appropriate course of action and to devise ways to ensure our students respect each other despite our racial differences.”

Dr. Howard adds, “I encourage every student, faculty and staff member to take time today to discuss this incident and what it means to Hampden-Sydney. Our mission is to produce 'Good Men and Good Citizens'; there is little doubt that some of us failed last night. I ask those who were involved in or witnessed this incident to consider your responsibility as a Hampden-Sydney Man…”

At the request of Dr. Howard, H-SC students, faculty and staff gathered Wednesday night, in response to the previous evening's incident, to discuss ensuring that the college is, in Dr. Howard's words, “a respectful and inclusive community.”