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Sam Houston State University (SHSU) Police Department were made aware of potential discrimination last week against students on campus. 

In the wake of the incident, SHSU Public Information Officer Stephanie Knific said the conduct reported to university officials on Sept. 22 is appalling and disheartening and does not represent Sam Houston State University’s values. The University Police Department and other appropriate offices are investigating as the university does not condone this behavior in any way and is committed to fostering an inclusive environment.

“Any violation of the university’s Student Code of Conduct or the law will be dealt with by the proper authorities,” said Knific. “Sam Houston State University encourages any campus member to report behaviors of discrimination to the Office of Equity and Title IX.”

In an updated message issued Wednesday by Jeanine Bias, Chief Diversity Officer, students were reminded to report suspicious behavior and be an active bystander. Below is the statement issued by Bias.

Bearkats, 

I wanted to take the time to send an update and shed some light regarding incidents reported last week at SHSU. Specifically, there were allegations of racism in our community, that occurred both on and off campus. I would like to reiterate that our university takes complaints of discrimination or harassment seriously.

On Sept. 19, the University received a report regarding the use of a racial slur against a student on campus. The Office of Equity and Title IX has moved forward with the investigation process which includes reviewing/gathering evidence and conducting interviews with potential witnesses. As is typical with all reported violations, if a student is found responsible, sanctions (consequences) will be imposed, according to the Student Code of Conduct.

Additionally, on Sept. 22, an off campus threat was reported via social media. At this time, the incident has yet to be substantiated through collaborated efforts (interviews and evidence collection) of Huntsville Police Department and University Police Department.

To dispel any rumors, no incidents have occurred in the Lowman Student Center, we have not received any additional or escalated reports of racism, and no arrests have been made on or off campus regarding discriminatory behavior.

We recognize that Sam Houston State University is not immune from acts of racism, even if we are unable to determine or substantiate reprehensible behavior. As we move forward and look to each other for guidance and support, it is up to each of us, as Bearkats, to remain steadfast in our values of honesty, integrity, and maintaining a community of belonging.

While statements alone cannot alter campus climate, we as Bearkats can. The safety of our campus community is paramount and it takes everyone to:

  • Report suspicious behavior to appropriate offices
  • Be an active bystander
  • Accept, respect and value one another

We continue to work to provide all Bearkats with a safe space to live, learn and support their goals and will continue to embrace diversity and inclusion, and ensure transparency and accountability.

However, we must do this together.

Jeanine Bias, Chief Diversity Officer

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