SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Bryant University’s president says he hopes the school community can learn from a recent racial incident and come out better in the end.
Ron Machtley’s comments come after senior Quinton Law said another student on campus yelled a racial slur at him earlier this month.
Instead of being supportive, Law said school administrators told him to take down a Facebook post he made about the encounter.
Now, the school’s president is conceding the university could have handled the situation differently.
“The entire university community must have confidence in the administration when situations occur like they did on February 3rd and I recognize we could have done better,” Machtley said in a statement. “I have personally reached out to Mr. Law and invited him to my office to better understand what he experienced. I want to hear his story and I want to assure him he has the support of this administration to express his views.”
Machtley said he’s ordered a review of the school’s social media policies “to ensure they are up to date and protect the principles of free speech while balancing the needs of the safety of our community.”
Law, who’s on the Bryant football team and involved in a number of other organizations on campus, including the Multicultural Student Union, said while the student in question has since apologized to him in private, it was clear to him that a community conversation still needed to happen.
With Law’s help, the school’s Student Affairs Division is organizing an educational event on the history and use of the racist word.
“A lot of people are uncomfortable talking about race, so I think the only way to change that is to have that conversation,” Law told Eyewitness News.
The event is expected to be held in the next few weeks.
Machtley said he’s asked Vice President for Human Resources Tim Paige; Eileen Kwesiga, professor of management, Ph.D.; and outside legal counsel Joseph Whelan to review of the incident and the university’s procedures. He said any recommendations they make will be made public.