As Bryant’s students, faculty, and staff have been previously informed, we had an incident on campus in the early hours of Sunday, April 7, which resulted in criminal charges being brought against three of our students. As a result of this incident, Bryant is taking the following steps in addition to those already noted.
I have asked Provost Glenn Sulmasy, JD, LL.M., to head a special Fact Finding Task Force composed of the following individuals: Professor Kojo Asare, Ph.D.; Professor Christopher Morse, Ph. D.; Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement and Executive Director of the PwC Center for Diversity and Inclusion Mailee Kue, Ph.D.; and Assistant Director of the PwC Center for Diversity and Inclusion Kevin Martins. The charge of this Task Force is to begin an immediate investigation into the circumstances on Saturday, April 6, leading up to the April 7 incident and to present a Fact Finding Report as soon as possible. Their investigation will seek to determine all the relevant facts, including whether a bias incident occurred.
Those individuals who have been charged by the police have been put on interim suspension and will not be allowed to remain in the residence halls. They will, however, be allowed to continue their academic studies pending a formal student conduct hearing.
The Task Force investigation and all student conduct hearings for any students charged will proceed as expeditiously as possible while protecting the due process rights of the parties. I also hope to have an experienced, retired judge oversee the student conduct hearings to ensure that all matters have been handled with complete impartiality, resulting in fair recommendations.
The investigation by the Smithfield Police Department is ongoing and we have been advised that additional students may be charged.
Members of the Bryant community may be experiencing distress, as am I, with potential tensions that this incident has brought to the surface. Please be reminded that support for the community is available through the trained staff in Bryant’s Office of Counseling Services, which provides students with a place to discuss challenges in a private and confidential setting.
In closing, I will remind everyone once again that Bryant will not tolerate physical violence or racial bias of any kind on our campus. This incident does not reflect the Bryant I know and love, as do you. What does reflect the Bryant I know is the tremendous turnout and great dialogue we experienced several weeks ago following another racial incident. We are a community of scholars made up of many diverse individuals from many backgrounds, cultures, and countries. We must return to our practice of resolving any differences through discussion and avoid hurtful and inflammatory words or confrontations. Bryant is a special place and we must cherish and work to maintain our strong sense of community.