Internal ESU investigation concludes ‘no hate crime was committed’

EMPORIA (KSNT) — Thursday saw the announcement of the results of an internal investigation into allegations of a hate crime and racial discrimination in the School of Library and Information Management.

The results were:

  1. No hate crime was committed;
  2. No racial discrimination occurred; and
  3. ESU Interim President and the Administration will work with faculty and staff to build a more inclusive community and with those within the SLIM to ensure a positive working environment.

On April 8, a grad student in SLIM found a notebook in the student office which had a racial slur written on it. This was reported to the dean’s assistant and then the dean. There was no former followup at the time.

On July 1, SLIM faculty member Melvin Hale and assistant to the dean Angelica Hale contacted ESU Police and Safety to tell an officer about the incident. They alleged that a coworker had written the word.

Vietti launched the investigation according to university policy on July 10, which followed the University Policy Manual and was reviewed by two external experts (an attorney at a multi-partner firm and an HR consultant who’s a former member of the Higher Learning Commission Board of Trustees and the Ohio Ethics Commission).

The investigation included interviews with 19 witnesses and about 350 pages of notes, documentation, etc. It considered three questions:

  1. Was a hate crime committed on or about April 8, 2015?
  2. Did racial discrimination occur in SLIM during the 2014-15 academic year?
  3. Are there further observations or recommendations to be made for SLIM?

In a release with the results, Interim President Jackie Vietti announced a commitment to working toward a more inclusive campus.

Vietti plans to work with a group of ESU faculty, staff, and students to “elevate the conversation of inclusivity on campus. . . and develop and action plan.” Vietti also intends to review university policies and procedures to improve the the timeliness of investigations into grievances.

“While any action, slur or otherwise, that marginalizes any member or group of Hornet Nation is reprehensible, it is now time for us to move forward and continue to work together for a better, stronger Hornet Nation in order to achieve our vision of changing lives to serve the common good,” said Vietti.

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