Racist slurs, homophobic hate language and a swastika written on notes left in public space at Gardner Commons

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 February 7, 2023, there was a table set up in a public area of Gardener Commons with a comment box to take comments/suggestions. Two students reported that they found several pieces of paper left on the table around the suggestion box with various racist and homophobic slurs and a swastika drawn on the pieces of paper. Specifically, the notes read:

  1. “Dear N-word,” “N-word,” and “f**k the gays.”
  2. “I love N-word (scratched out)” and then just “N-word.”
  3. “N-word” and a swastika

In each of the instances, the N-word was spelled out. The students who found the notes contacted University of Utah Police and turned the hard-copies of the notes in for  investigation.

What is being done

The students reported the incident to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA), the Racist and Bias Incident Response Team, and the University of Utah Police Department. U of U Police are conducting an investigation. As part of that investigation, U of U Police are currently attempting to identify the individuals involved. 

If you have any information related to this incident (or others) that may help, please report by filling out the form at the Office of the Dean of Students website. You can also report to University of Utah Police by calling 801-585-2677 or by filling out the Silent Witness form.

If, through the course of some review or investigation (by University Police, or other appropriate investigative body), the individual(s) responsible is identified, the Office of the Dean of Students (if confirmed to be a student), Human Resources (if confirmed to be an employee), or other appropriate leader, will act within University policy designed to hold the individual(s) accountable and, if appropriate, provide additional education about the harm caused to the community by this type of behavior.

What to do

Be vigilant and speak up. If you see someone engaging in harmful behavior, and you feel comfortable, intervene.

Stopping this type of behavior takes collective action, and bystander intervention efforts are one way of combatting such conduct that causes real harm. 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

The University strongly disagrees with and condemns the messages contained in these notes, which cause real harm and diminish a sense of belonging and safety for not only our Black, Jewish, and LGBTQ+ communities, but for other marginalized communities as well. We are striving to create a campus community where all members find a place of safety and belonging and have the space to explore, express, and celebrate their various identities. Those who engage in the work of creating a more inclusive and diverse culture on campus should be able to do so without fear of threats.

When done covertly, we cannot stop the act in the moment. We will continue to name the biased and hateful acts, investigate, and when such acts violate the law or our policies, we will hold the perpetrators of these hateful acts accountable when they are identified. Additionally, we will continue efforts that uplift and celebrate our communities and enhance a sense of belonging on our campus, and strive to live our mission and lead with purpose.

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