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'We won't allow for business as usual': UK town hall on racial violence seeks way forward after attack on student

Josh James

The Education & Civil Rights Initiative, the local NAACP, and UK faculty and students participated in a virtual town hall Wednesday night to discuss racial violence on campus in the wake of an attack on a Black student that went viral early this week.

The town hall had several goals — ranging from holding space for students and faculty to talk through the recent events to sharing ways to practice self-care.

Over the weekend, a video showed student Kylah Spring, who is Black, being attacked by a white student, who hurled racial slurs at her. Students responded Monday night with a protest on campus.

While participants stressed the need to process the assault individually and collectively, conversations also centered around accountability — for the perpetrator and any school policies or practices that contribute to a less safe campus for students of color.

Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, Dean of the UK College of Education, said that extends to a number of ongoing efforts on campus.

"We absolutely have to address this situation in the short term, but in the long term we need to hold ourselves accountable for results on climate, recruiting students of color and faculty of color, and creating safer spaces for those students and faculty as they come," he said.

Jocelyn Grimsley, president of UK's Black Student Union, echoed those comments, saying minority students plan to take their message to the administration.

"We won't allow for business as usual and we plan to mobilize minority students to bring a list of acts for the university, and we plan to hold them accountable to real change."
Jocelyn Grimsley, president of the UK Black Student Union

The town hall came after a campus-wide email from UK President Eli Capilouto revealed that the alleged attacker, Sophia Rosing, is no longer a UK student and is now permanently banned from campus as investigations and court proceedings continue.

Read the full email below.

Campus Community,

We have pledged to keep you informed regarding our response to the racist assault captured on video last Sunday on our campus. I want to emphasize that this behavior was disgusting and devastating to our community. We stand by our students who were targeted by this unacceptable hostility and violence.

I write to provide an update on the incident: As a community working wholeheartedly to prevent racist violence, we also must be committed to holding people accountable for their actions. The processes we have in place are essential.

  • Ms. Rosing is no longer a student at the University of Kentucky.
  • Within hours of learning about this incident, we suspended her on an interim basis — a move that banned her from campus during our investigation.
  • I have also determined that she will not be eligible to re-enroll as a student.
  • She is permanently banned from the campus.
  • Although she is no longer a student, we must continue our investigations. That includes our cooperation with an investigation into criminal charges filed; our Code of Student Conduct disciplinary proceedings and racial harassment misconduct being reviewed by our Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity.
  • Further charges could be forthcoming based on these investigations. 

I will be sharing more information about the next steps we are taking soon. Thank you for being a community that cares.

Eli Capilouto

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.