On June 9, 2021, Provost Nancy Berner shared an update on the March incident in which a few spectators were reported to have harassed members of a visiting athletic team.
Dear Sewanee Family,
I write to share with you an update on the March incident in which a few spectators were reported to have harassed members of a visiting athletic team using racial and other epithets, causing game officials to clear the stadium of fans. The University has completed its investigation, which followed the general process described in Sewanee’s Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Policy.
The result of the investigation was that no specific individuals could be identified due to a lack of first-hand corroborating reports. It was recommended that a summary of the report be given to the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for discussion of the impact of the incident and consideration of any support needed for our community.
A team of three fact-finders conducted the University’s investigation into the reported incident. They conducted interviews, including with those present at the game, and carefully reviewed the dozens of online reports and statements submitted following a call for information, but none provided a first-hand account. Our thanks to all those who volunteered information to help in the investigators’ work, which was independently reviewed by an external law firm.
The University has already announced actions to help prevent similar incidents in the future, including updating game protocols and changes in the positioning of Sewanee staff and security at athletic events. These will be in effect in the fall. In addition, the Southern Athletic Association is considering conference-wide fan protocols and reviewing competition venues.
The work to transform Sewanee’s culture regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion is sometimes difficult, but necessary. The University is proud of the vast majority of students who showed their determination to uphold the values of dignity and decency—EQB—in the weeks following the incident. We will continue to work together to ensure that Sewanee is a welcoming home for all.
Nancy J. Berner
Senior Vice President and Provost
William Henderson Professor of Biology