To the University of Richmond student body, faculty, staff and administrators:
It is up to each and every one of us to ensure that something like this never happens again. We are a community, and as such, we have to unite to educate and to look out for each other. Racism was not something that suddenly ended during the 1960s. Racism is an ongoing problem in the United States and cannot continue to be ignored. We can't know what the student intended, but his impact was insulting to the campus community. This behavior was more than thoughtless — it was ignorant. But ignorance is no excuse, and we cannot continue to let it act as such. It is inexcusable and irresponsible to not think about the consequences of your actions, about who they'll offend and about how they'll be perceived.
And to those of you who might shrug this off as an overreaction on the part of those offended, ask yourselves this question: Would this be funny any other day of the year? Just because it was Halloween did not make it okay for this young man to mock a racial stereotype. We commend the people who turned him away from parties because of the offending nature of his costume. It is important to take a stand when something offends or insults, and we are truly proud to be a part of the same student body that has come out so vehemently against this offensive incident.
As the representatives of Westhampton College, we feel strongly about the nature of such ignorance. We can only hope that this serves as a wake-up call to those who go about their daily lives without considering the effects their actions have, or may have, on others. Sadly, this incident is only a small representation of what continues to happen every day, both within the Richmond community and throughout the rest of the United States. It is important to realize that we can help put a stop to it, both by making sure our voices are heard and by being strong advocates for causes about which we feel passionately. It is not enough to simply oppose racism, rather we need to take a more active role by, for instance, educating ourselves on issues of racism or standing up to our friends hen they make inappropriate comments. We need to hold ourselves to both University of Richmond standards and most importantly, to the basic standards of humanity. The reaction on the part of this student body and administration has been incredibly inspiring. We look to you, the lifeblood of the University of Richmond, to help create a more inclusive atmosphere and to ensure that such an act never again occurs.
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