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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Letter from Dean Roberta Bigger in response to the article “Student opens up about racially motivated event” printed in the March 7 issue of the Old Gold and Black

Letter+from+Dean+Roberta+Bigger+in+response+to+the+article+%E2%80%9CStudent+opens+up+about+racially+motivated+event%E2%80%9D+printed+in+the+March+7+issue+of+the+Old+Gold+and+Black

I commend student Drew Copeland for organizing three “Talking Down Barriers” events on campus in response to an inexcusable incident that happened to him on our campus. I was able to participate in two of the three, and I found them to be thoughtful, informative and well-attended.

The incident that led him to create these programs was appalling and unacceptable. Drew’s reaction to use it as a teaching moment for the college and the community is commendable.

I agree with Drew, as do many others on campus, that we as the Wofford community need to have more conversations about race and other issues. Such conversations can be difficult to have because of strong emotions, opposing opinions and high personal stakes. We need to enter these conversations deliberately and be prepared to acknowledge our personal preconceptions without hurting others. Fortunately, we have well-qualified staff and faculty at Wofford who can and are willing to lead these important community discussions.

The recent OG&B article highlighted Drew’s experience, but neither Ron Norman nor I were offered the opportunity to be included in the article. While we cannot discuss specifics of the incident or the sanctions imposed, we want our students, faculty and staff to know that, first of all, we do not accept or tolerate discrimination, harassment or hate speech on our campus. Secondly, we encourage reporting of any of these incidents, and we pledge to thoroughly investigate them and apply sanctions, if appropriate. Students and others can report harassment and discrimination through our Bias Incident Report, which is available online on myWofford or directly to a Campus Safety Officer.

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Our formal policy, the Code and a list of sanctions for those who violate Wofford’s “Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities” and our “Honor Code” can be found in the Student Handbook, available online. I want to assure all members of the Wofford community that staff members in the Office of Student Affairs, Residence Life, Campus Safety and Wellness Center take every reported incident seriously. Thorough investigations take time, especially when many students are involved, and decisions are made conscientiously. (The Code can be found at www.wofford.edu/uploadedFiles/studentLife/Student%20Handbook.pdf.)

xWe have been in the process of creating a committee to include faculty and other staff in the investigations of the Bias Incident Reports and our responses on these matters. When these polices changes are approved, we will notify everyone.

We stand behind Wofford’s commitment to an inclusive and diverse community, and we take seriously any attempts to discriminate against or harass any of our community members or visitors. Ron Norman, our director of diversity and inclusion, and I are available to discuss our policies and procedures regarding harassment and discrimination or any other issues that may be on your mind.

Mr. Norman and I look forward to hearing from students, faculty and staff.

Sincerely,

Roberta Bigger

Dean of Students

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