A black female Penn State student was the target of an “offensive, threatening slur” while walking through the West Halls quad on Sept. 23, Penn State Police Chief Tyrone Parham said.
The comment was yelled out of an open window at about 12:30 a.m. Sept. 23 and the woman reported the comment at about 10:40 a.m. later that day, Parham said.
The woman was walking alone through the quad early Sunday morning, and because it was dark, she could not identify where the comment came from, Parham said.
Police canvassed the area after the incident was reported, and authorities are continuing to actively investigate the situation through witnesses and West Halls residents, Parham said.
Residence Life Assistant Director Moses Davis also addressed the issue in an email to all West Halls residents disseminated on Sept. 27, reminding students that the university has a zero-tolerance policy against acts of hate.
The email provided resource links for students to report acts of hate in the future, as well as the appropriate people to contact, should an incident like the one reported occur in the future.
“We are working very hard to spread the word that this was a very real event that just happened here in our community this past weekend,” Davis wrote in the email. “We hope to bring awareness that these events still occur and are unacceptable.”
Student groups like the Penn State Student Black Caucus are concerned with the act of hate that occurred on campus, President Ryan Brown said.
The group is looking to build awareness about the incident, though no specific events have been planned with regard to the incident specifically, Brown (senior-integrative arts) said.
“It’s a sad reality that we have to still deal with this in what many call a post-racial society,” he said. “Penn State claims to be a university built on diversity… and students need to be accepting of that. The fact that it’s even capable of happening, makes life for students of color hard on this campus.”
Should police identify the person charged with yelling the racial slur, the person may face charges ranging from harassment to making terroristic threats, depending on what is discovered after further investigation, Parham said.
If the person has an affiliation with the university, such as being a student or faculty member, Parham said the person may also be referred to agencies within Penn State, like the Office of Student Conduct.
To help prevent situations like these from happening in the future, Parham recommends students walk in groups, especially at night, or utilize the university’s escort service, available at 814-863-WALK. He also said he encourages the use of available campus shuttles that run at night.
Anyone with further information on the incident is asked to contact police at 814-863-1111.