Getting settled into a hotel room in Montgomery. The university released the response from its Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) while we were traveling.
I had my co-pilot read it, and we summarized things on the way down.
For starters, BIRT co-chair Merrill Magruder says the crew of the play “The Laramie Project” has “stressed that they did not want to see punitive action but rather make this an educational opportunity for those who were in attendance.”
Along those lines BIRT has made some recommendations that I’ll get to in a moment. The athletics department made no statement today.
Hugh Freeze had this to say on Twitter earlier today:
As the University gathers facts, we will not sacrifice accuracy for a rush to judgement. We want to know the truth as much as anybody.
Athletics will likely support the findings of the university. Athletics and academics have presented a very united front on this issue.
It remains possible, though, that athletics could provide discipline of its own.
One thing that seems consistent here is that there are different accounts of what actually happened, and that may be making it hard to arrive at specifics.
In our work on Thursday Chris Kieffer and I were getting different accounts.
The BIRT response email says:
“The task of identifying specific individuals who were purported to have disrupted the performance is difficult because of the dark theatre, and initial reports vary in regard to the frequency, volume and source of the comments or disruption. Although initial reports indicate that student-athletes led the action, it is important to note that this has not been verified, and they were not the only students present. Reports indicate that comments were made by student-athletes and students, but no report has singled out a specific student or mentioned any names.”
The response encourages those who were in attendance who may have specific accounts to step forward.
Fact-gathering here sounds like it’s pretty difficult. In leading off its list of four recommendations the BIRT release again talks about “conflicting reports.”
The recommendations include:
That all students in attendance be required to attend an educational dialogue session led by University faculty and Allies. Cast members are invited to participate as well.
That BIRT support the continued efforts of the Athletics department to foster an environment of diversity and inclusion such as their partnership with the William Winter Institute in hosting racial reconciliation week Oct. 7-11 and their continued support of the LGBTQ community.
Counseling be provided for students who may need it after the public acknowledgement of the reported incident.
That university leadership encourage faculty, staff, students and community members to fully support the LGBTQ community by attending and supporting PRIDE week activities.