Our Collective Responsibility to Confront All Forms of Social Injustice
Dear members of the Northwestern community,
Tuesday night was supposed to be a celebration. We were thrilled to welcome students back to Welsh-Ryan Arena to cheer on the men’s basketball team in a Big Ten Conference game for the first time in 682 days. It also was the program’s “Together We Win” game, part of our yearlong campaign to raise awareness of the Athletics department’s ongoing commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive community that fosters belonging and honors authenticity.
The celebration was marred by one individual’s abhorrent and racist actions toward members of our student section, providing yet another painful reminder that there is still much work to be done in our collective efforts to confront racism and bigotry toward members of our Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American community as well as other marginalized groups in our society.
On behalf of the Department of Athletics and Recreation, I am disheartened our fans and members of our community had to experience this type of hatred in one of our venues. The actions were unacceptable and a violation of University values and our fan code of conduct. As a community, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to fostering an environment where every Wildcat feels safe, welcome and affirmed. The responsibility to intentionally engage in areas of difference and act swiftly when injustice occurs is a responsibility that we all share.
I commend the fans in attendance who witnessed this unacceptable behavior and had the courage to bring it to our attention, and appreciate the leadership and professionalism demonstrated by our events staff and members of the Northwestern University Police Department who rapidly responded and removed the individual from the venue.
Northwestern and Wisconsin athletic departments identified the individual who committed the offensive act, and the individual was banned from attending sporting events at both universities.
We are grateful for all parties involved that came together to address this wrong, but we realize this was only one instance. As Wildcats, we need to encourage each other to continue to speak up, come together and stand against all forms of social injustice.
Dr. Derrick Gragg
Combe Family Vice President for Athletics & Recreation