As a Rutgers student, I get emails that President Richard McCormick sends out to all of us. I know Pete isn’t defending Imus, but I’d like to post the email to perhaps show you why I, as an active member of the Rutgers community, found the comments so offensive, and to give a little insight into how the situation is being approached from the inside. Keep reading to see the letter.

Members of the Rutgers Community:

Last week our university family was focused on celebrating the amazing performance of our Scarlet Knights women’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament. The team brought pride and excitement to our university and captured the hearts of people across the state and the nation. Our student-athletes and their coach deserved to feel immensely proud of what they had just accomplished, but they had that moment stolen away by the racist, sexist remarks of radio personality Don Imus and his colleagues.

Mr. Imus’ shocking comments last week were despicable and deeply hurtful to our students, our coach, and their families. They were also offensive to every member of the Rutgers community, as well as to people across the nation. Racism and sexism have no place in our society and are completely at odds with our values as a university that celebrates diversity and civility.

As a university, our focus is on the best interests of the student-athletes and on supporting their coaches and families. I met with the coach and team members Monday morning to get a sense of how they are feeling and what their wishes are. I have also been in touch with their parents.

Ten remarkable young women have had to deal with a completely undeserved and very personal shock. What should be a feeling of euphoria has turned to one of anguish. I know you join me in warmly embracing this team of student-athletes in the hope that our support will help them through this painful moment in their lives.

Many at Rutgers have asked or have been asked about this matter and are looking for information on our position. The University’s position, including points from statements we have issued since last Thursday, is the following:

* These 10 young women, members of the Rutgers family, have been harmed by the comments made by Mr. Imus and his colleagues. Our first priority is looking after the interests of our students and supporting the team.

* It is unconscionable for anyone to use the airways to utter such disgraceful, disgusting and racist remarks and to show such disregard for the dignity of human beings who have accomplished so much and deserve great credit. The comments by Mr. Imus have been extremely hurtful not only to the members of the Rutgers basketball team and their families but also to people across the nation.

* We are very proud of Coach C. Vivian Stringer and the talented young women who comprise the Rutgers women’s basketball team. These student-athletes have worked extremely hard on and off the basketball court. They have been and continue to be outstanding ambassadors for Rutgers.

* Mr. Imus has asked to meet directly with Coach Stringer and the players. We have shared that request with the coach and members of the team, and it is their decision whether to honor the request. We will respect their wishes, whatever they decide.

As noted above, Coach Stringer, athletic director Bob Mulcahy, and I have issued statements on the matter over the past several days, and all can be found on a link from the Rutgers home page: www.rutgers.edu. We will continue to speak out and to make clear that the university will not tolerate such uncivil, irresponsible, and offensive behavior. We stand behind our team and are deeply proud of these exceptional Rutgers students.

Richard L. McCormick
President
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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