Homophobic Slur at Recognized Student Organization Meeting

Current Status:

After a period of 90 days with no new information, cases are considered closed. However, if new information becomes available or there are other updates those will be posted here. Individuals who believe they have been the target of bias, intolerance or discrimination may report an incident to the public incident report form (bias and intolerance) or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (sexual misconduct and discrimination).

Please direct any questions or concerns in regard to this bias incident to the RBIRT Manager at RBIresponse@utah.edu.

What happened

On August 23, 2022, during an introductory meeting for the local chapter of a Recognized Student Organization (Registered), two attendees at the meeting used a homophobic slur. Specifically, one of the student attendees used the slur “f**” when he said one of his reasons to join the group was to “bring the gospel to the liberals and the f***.” And another attendee said the same slur, in reference to members of the LGBTQ+ community who wish to be addressed by their correct pronouns. The slurs were not directed at any particular individual, but in reference to the entire LGBTQ+ community. It is important to note that the individuals in question were not speaking for the organization when they used that particular word. 

What is being done

The incident was reported to the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA) as well as the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team. 

Student Leadership and Involvement met with leadership from the student organization and worked with them on a plan to ensure that similar conduct does not happen in the future. The president of the group agreed that use of the reported language is unacceptable and is in conflict with their values and purpose. The leadership put in place a plan to address the conduct directly with its members at their next meeting, to make it clear that degrading and/or hateful language will not be tolerated. In addition, the student organization is working with the OEO/AA to provide additional training and education to their leaders on the University policies regarding discrimination.

What to do

Be vigilant and speak up. If you observe someone using offensive slurs and if you feel safe doing so, intervene or report it to a nearby official.

Stopping this type of behavior takes collective action, and bystander intervention efforts are one way of combatting conduct that can wrongfully be seen as “just a word” but can cause real harm to the community being targeted. To learn more about how to incorporate bystander intervention into your toolkit, check out the information here: https://wellness.utah.edu/workshops-training/#bystander.

If you are interested in learning more about the variety of resources the U offers to support diversity and inclusion, please visit the Office of the Dean of Students in the Union Building, Room 270, deanofstudents@utah.edu, 801-581-7066, or Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Park Building, Room 208, or https://diversity.utah.edu/our-team/. To make a report of a racist or bias incident, visit the public reporting form

The U is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion

Acts like this cause harm to students’ and other community members’ sense of belonging in a time when we are returning to a place of in-person connectedness, and some are feeling especially vulnerable. We are still striving to ensure that students are able to find a place of safety and belonging as a part of our campus community, including within Registered Student Organizations, and have the space to explore, express and celebrate their various identities. 

We will continue to name the biased acts, and do what we can to achieve cultural change on campus. While offensive, hate speech and slurs are generally still protected under the first amendment, but where and when we can, we will take action that is allowable within those afforded free speech protections. Additionally, we will continue efforts that uplift and celebrate our communities and enhance a sense of belonging on our campus.

Questions & Concerns

For any questions or concerns regarding an incident or this process, please contact Ana Ascencio, RBIRT Manager, at RBIresponse@utah.edu.

For additional reporting information on reporting any safety-related incidents, visit the #SafeU website.

Incidents & updates

Support Resources

If you are currently in a situation where immediate medical, police or other emergency services are needed, call 911 or University Emergency Communications at 801-585-2677 (801-585-COPS). To file a complaint regarding discrimination or sexual harassment, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA) at 801-581-8365.

Support & resources

Report a Bias Incident

Any act of intolerance, motivated wholly or in part by bias or prejudice against an individual’s race, color, ethnicity, age, religion, size, disability, national origin, language, gender, veteran status, identity expression, sexual orientation or age—regardless of severity—can be reported using this form.

Submit a report