The Howard Women's Lacrosse Assault Incident

BREAKING NEWS -- COLLEGE COMPLETES INVESTIGATION, fraternity is disbanded and cannot return.

 

Dear Presbyterian College Community,

The independent investigation into the events of Feb. 11 has now concluded, and I write to inform you of the results of that important work.

PC’s use of an impartial, external attorney to conduct the investigation enabled the process to proceed as efficiently and thoroughly as possible. The investigation entailed interviews with 31 individuals, including witnesses from PC and Howard University, and 11 respondents (alleged offenders), many of whom retained attorneys. The investigator collected 44 exhibits, produced a detailed account of all interviews, and supplied PC administrators with a detailed report.

Ultimately, the evidence, including personal statements, eyewitness accounts, and exhibits, indicated that a small number of students taunted members of the visiting Howard University women’s lacrosse team during pre-game warmups using racist, misogynistic, hateful, and otherwise inappropriate language and behaviors. The evidence also revealed that some nearby students and staff took immediate, proactive measures to address the inexcusable behaviors.

We are profoundly sorry for what our guests from Howard University experienced that day. Our hearts are heavy for them and for women and people of color throughout the PC community, many of whom felt less safe because of the actions of a select few. Standing together as a unified community, PC categorically condemns racism, misogyny, and hate, all of which have no place in civilized society and are anathema to our most deeply held institutional values.

Yet we do not mistake apologies for actions, nor heartfelt statements for accountability. We will seize this opportunity to faithfully live out and demonstrate our values, especially our commitment to seek justice and defend the humanity and self-worth of all people. PC has therefore taken the following actions as a direct result of the incident and investigation:

  • PC is permanently separating four students from the college, effective today.
  • One student received a one-year suspension from PC.
  • Two students received probated suspensions and must complete educational programs and counseling.
  • Two students received penalties for alcohol-related policy violations.
  • PC determined that two students were not involved in any misconduct.

Additionally, several members of PC’s chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity – though not all members – participated in the Feb. 11 incident. Earlier this year, in an unrelated case, the national office of Pi Kappa Phi became aware of allegations of hazing by the PC chapter members and conducted their own investigation into that matter. That office determined that hazing occurred and revoked the PC chapter’s charter. The national fraternity office also left the door open to eventual, possible reestablishment of a charter. However, in light of the PC chapter’s continued student conduct issues, including their significant involvement in the Feb. 11 incident, PC is permanently removing the chapter from campus and eliminating any possible path to reestablishment.

At PC’s request, the independent investigator is helping to document institutional learnings from the events of Feb. 11 and preparing a list of recommendations to improve our processes and policies. PC will revisit policies related to Hoseville and pre-game activities after receiving that report.

We are proud of and encouraged by the enormous amount of support from PC students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends for our visitors from Howard University and for all women and people of color. Such gestures, including a recent student-led Unity March featuring robust faculty and staff support, are a testament to the real Presbyterian College. In an earlier demonstration of our values, PC announced in October the establishment of its first named and endowed cabinet-level position: the Rogers-Ingram Vice President for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We look forward to celebrating the appointment of our new VP within a few days.

PC strives to be a welcoming, nurturing, and empowering institution for every member of our campus community. This work is a perpetual journey of constant and often challenging self-reflection and growth. The Blue Hose are equal to the task because we are resolutely and unflinchingly committed to acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. Working together, we will not let this incident define us. Instead, we will let our actions speak our truth, for they will ring out now and resonate forever.

On, On PC.

Sincerely,

Matt

FAQ

 

Who performed the investigation?
An independent attorney not connected to PC, Cindy Crick, performed the investigation, which included 31 interviews from both PC and Howard University as well as 44 exhibits of information.

Who determined the sanctions?
Once the investigation was completed and its findings given to PC, college leaders determined the sanctions as part of the student conduct process.

Were all students in the area known as “Hoseville” or watching the game found to be involved in the Feb. 11 incident?
No. A vast majority of our students on campus that day acted appropriately. Additionally, some nearby students and staff took immediate, proactive measures to address the inexcusable behaviors.

Why did the investigation take so long?
Student conduct investigations can often take many months to resolve, even when only a few individuals are involved, and students are provided a number of procedural protections under relevant policies. This incident was complex and involved over ten respondents as well as dozens of witnesses at two different schools. While we understand the frustration with how long the process can take, it was done as expeditiously as possible while being fair and complete.

Will PC identify those students involved in the incident or will any report be released?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that protects the privacy of student records, precludes institutions from disclosing “personally identifiable” information about individual students. Accordingly, PC will not release information or details about specific individuals involved in the incident.

Will Hoseville be reopened?
At PC’s request, the independent investigator also is helping to document institutional learnings from the events of Feb. 11 and preparing a list of recommendations to improve our processes and policies. PC will revisit policies related to Hoseville and pre-game activities after receiving that report.

Did the Howard administration or women’s lacrosse team take part in the student conduct investigation and resulting sanctions?
While the investigation included interviews with members of Howard University, PC student conduct investigations and processes are the sole responsibility of PC to implement. The PC administration has informed the Howard administration of the findings and sanctions while maintaining PC’s obligations under FERPA. The leaders and students of Howard have been gracious throughout the process, as we have worked to remedy and atone for what they experienced on that day.

Did the investigation find Pi Kappa Phi fraternity was involved in the events of Feb. 11?
Several members of PC’s chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity – though not all members – participated in the Feb. 11 incident. The fraternity, which already had its charter revoked by its national headquarters as part of an unrelated investigation, will be permanently banned from campus.

Is the removal of PKP from campus a step in the direction of ending Greek Life on campus?
No. PC values its rich Greek life tradition and seeks to support and further strengthen it for the future. Some of the members’ continued student conduct issues, including involvement in the Feb. 11 incident, made clear that the chapter was detracting from PC’s efforts to create an uplifting, affirming, and inclusive environment for all students.

 

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