Two weeks after a video surfaced online of two students repeating racial slurs in the parking lot of the Charter Oak apartments on UConn’s Storrs campus, students, faculty and President Thomas Katsouleaus met to discuss ways to create a more inclusive learning environment.
On Monday, 21-year-old Jarred Mitchell Karal, of Plainville, and 21-year-old Ryan Gilman Mucaj, of Granby, were arrested and are facing charges including ridicule on account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race.
Katsouleaus said his mission to create an open dialogue and hear students’ ideas on changes they would like to see.
Those who took part in the meeting listened to understand and cohesively find ways to improve the overall environment like creating a day to celebrate diversity.
“I find these as a really valuable way to communicate with and really be a president for an entire university,” Katsolueaus said. “I wanted to meet with as many people as I can and get a sense of their concerns.”
Jasani Thompson is a junior and said she’s not shocked nor surprised by the incident.
“This campus is not diverse as they claim to be,” said Thompson. “White people on this campus are not as accepting as they claim to be.”
Alexa Stansfield is a senior who believes that change is necessary in order to create a more inclusive environment.
“I think there’s a huge call of action that’s needed for people of privilege to step up,” said Stansfield. “I would like to be optimistic that we’re headed towards the right track and he’s actually actively listening and trying to make changes.”
Mandy Cherry was inside the meeting and said she appreciates the president and faculty for making an effort to hear students concerns.
“They didn’t just come in with their complaints but they also came up with solutions,” said Cherry. “I feel like that’s going to be very helpful moving forward.”
Students suggested that the UConn administration hire minority professors and find mentors for students of color.
Thompson said having a conversation is great but taking action is necessary.
“I want to make sure something actually happens and I hope something good actually comes from it,” said Thompson. “I want to see actual consequences for the students.”
The university is on the hunt to find the next chief diversity officer to help provide resources and diversity sessions for students and staff.