NU keeps quiet on “recent, distressing incident”

By Stephen Babcock and Ricky Thompson

University officials remained silent early this week after acknowledging an investigation about an incident involving racial or religious discrimination, but one administrator said the incident would be discussed today at Faculty Senate.

“The individual who is the victim of this incident wants to discuss it him or herself, and has decided the proper forum for that is the Faculty Senate,” said Vincent Lembo, vice president and university counsel.

Details could not be disclosed as of press time because the incident is still being vetted, said Brian Kenny, vice president for marketing and communications.

“It was not a physical assault or act of violence,” he said.

A letter from President Joseph Aoun, posted Thursday night to myNEU, described a “recent, distressing incident” on campus that gave the president cause to state his “abhorrence of racism and religious intolerance,” but did not give specific details of the incident.

“The incident on campus that I referenced runs counter to all that I have discussed here,” the letter said. “I hope that this was not action taken by students, faculty or staff, nonetheless, it did occur in our community.”

Calls to Aoun’s office seeking comment were returned by Kenny.

Kenny said the letter was inspired by Aoun’s desire to raise the issue in the community.

Lembo said the individual will be given a chance at the forum “to put on the table whatever they feel is important to discuss, and will ask the faculty to join in.”

The Office of Affirmative Action and Diversity is planning events in response and will provide more details as they emerge, said Dean of Affirmative Action and Diversity Donnie Perkins.

“The details of it may be important, but it should not in any way dissuade any of us from being committed to playing an active role in ensuring our peers that the university is a place where none of that activity will be accepted,” he said.

Faculty Senate will convene today at 11:45 a.m. in 450 Dodge Hall.

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