Dear Members of the Monmouth University Community:
Let me begin by apologizing for the pain, anger, and profound disappointment our campus community and the community at-large have experienced as a result of the hurtful and offensive actions taken by several members of our student body at the men’s basketball game on our campus on March 6. Upon hearing of this troubling incident, I promised an aggressive investigation, since discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated on this campus. Here is an update.
The individuals involved were immediately identified, and their case was elevated to the Monmouth University Police Department. Pursuant to the Attorney General’s April 5, 2019 Revised Bias Incident Investigation Standards, the Monmouth University Police Department was mandated to report the bias incident to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor’s Office determined that the conduct did not meet the legal standards of a bias crime under New Jersey Law. As a result, the Prosecutor’s Office referred the case back to us at the University for adjudication under our Student Code of Conduct.
The individuals involved have been charged under the Student Code of Conduct. Our investigation thus far has established that these specific students did use a reference to sexual orientation as an insult, but they did not target an individual or group of individuals because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. This distinction in no way absolves these students of their actions, but these facts are significantly different from those that heretofore have been reported and shared. Regardless, these actions represent a clear breach of established student conduct protocols and are an insult to our collective community. Our investigation continues, and sanctions, commensurate with the ultimate findings, will be levied. It is clear that we have a lot more work to do in educating these students about creating a safe and welcoming community for all.
In the meantime, I have reached out to the President of Siena College, have shared these details with her, and have apologized on behalf of the Monmouth University community. I have assured her that the Siena Saints will always be welcome on this campus.
Members of the LGBTQA+ community should also always feel welcome on our campus. Monmouth University is committed to providing an inclusive, diverse, and genuinely welcoming community for all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. As the new president, I have made this a top priority for my administration, as evidenced by the comprehensive culture study that I have commissioned to establish a campus climate baseline. The survey has been open for three weeks, and I encourage all members of the University community to complete it. Once the results are tabulated, I will work with the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion – as well as with the Faculty Council, with the newly-established Staff Council, with the Student Government Association, and with representative student, faculty, staff leaders – to develop programming and initiatives that will ensure we are living up to our commitment.
To all of our current and future LGBTQA+ Hawks, I welcome your ideas to help ensure Monmouth University is an institution you can proudly call home.
Dr. Patrick Leahy