College of Charleston set to implement diversity initiatives after Halloween incident

Student-proposed recommendations might be seen as early as next semester

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The College of Charleston campus. - FLICKR USER ADWRITER
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College of Charleston president Glenn McConnell outlined three student recommendations that college officials will work on within the next year, according to a statement released Thursday.

The list came after meetings McConnell had with several students, which he called "honest and enlightening."

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The weekend before Halloween, social media posts of multiple insensitive costumes caught the attention of CofC's Black Student Union. The images showed an alleged CofC student in an orange jumpsuit with the name "Freddie Gray" written on the back. Gray was a 25-year-old from Baltimore who died in 2015 after suffering a spinal cord injury while in police custody. His death has been labeled an incident of police brutality by multiple activist groups, including Black Lives Matter.

A university spokesman said there was "no new update" on the investigation into the alleged students as of Friday morning.

"I embrace all three of the following student recommendations, which I think are important initiatives that will help foster a better campus climate and help us be a stronger College of Charleston community," McConnell said in the statement.

The purported changes include a revised code of conduct, the creation of a bias incident response team (BIRT) to specifically focus on "bias-related incidents," and a sensitivity training module that will be mandatory for the next class of incoming freshmen. The revised code of conduct and training modules are expected to be ready by the fall 2018 semester. The college plans on having the BRIT ready by this spring. Schools like Dartmouth, Vassar, Bryn Mawr, North Carolina State University, and UNC Asheville have already implemented BRITs. Clemson University has a bias incident response protocol that "outlines and organized response to bias incidents that may occur" within the student community. 

"Change, as we know all too well, is incremental; it’s something you build on every day; it’s something you make a priority; and it’s something you follow through on with action, not just words," McConnell said.

The university has yet to specify whether similar review plans are in place following last month's on-campus sexual assault.

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