Team Fogel Addressed Community on Diversity Issues, Looks to Future Plans

For the purposes of the affair, the Memorial Lounge had been transformed into a press release room and therein sat 30 or so faculty, students and members of the media. Two weeks after a University student had firearms drawn on her by university police President Fogel and members of his staff including Police Chief Margolis gathered to provide the community with an explanation, an apology and a plan for the future regarding race relations at the university. The student has thus far remained anonymous. President Fogel made clear his intention to bring in an action-team with Andre Barre supposedly to head this team. Barre’s credentials and terms of employment were not made clear. Nor were those of the action-team except that Fogel said, “We’re going to concentrate a lot on these police issues.” President made it his focus not to dwell upon the incident itself, but rather to broaden the scope of the investigation and to look into the structure of the entire school and into its policies of diversification saying, “key to this [racial-well-being] is a more diverse faculty.” Adding, “it has never been acceptable to say ‘well, Vermont isn’t a very diverse state.” He also mentioned that he would act with a ‘great sense of urgency’ in these matters, making it among his top priorities. In Fogel’s saying “We have to look at the whole climate for undergrads,” there is the implication that there are changes to come for the student body as well. Along with the remarks of Fogel and Margolis, were those made by the people present in the conference room. Three people from the audience took the floor to tell of their own encounter with racial profiling and discrimination by local authorities, and though the color of skin varied from person to person, the sense of injustice in each of their tales was common to all. There was a UVM student of middle-eastern descent who had been callously questioned and interrogated at the greyhound bus station by an authority who did not state his name or his agency. Only this student was asked to procure identification in a room full of would-be passengers. Professor Leon spoke at length to those present about his experience involving racial profiling, an incident which occurred ten years ago wherein he was asked by a police officer for identification and a statement of purpose while he loaded groceries into his car. The officer would not give Leon a reason for the inquisition. As much as it is culturally gainful to diversify student body and faculty alike, the plethora of cases brought to bear that afternoon involving police overstepping their bounds, according to the victims, would suggest that the nexus of the problem lies therein.