Statement by WWU President Bruce Shepard and Associated Students President Carly Roberts

Western Today staff

Statement by Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard and Western Associated Student Body President Carly Roberts:

Last night, in the vicinity of our campus, several hundred people refused to obey a lawful order to disperse.

The extent to which university students may have been involved has yet to be determined. Of the three arrests made, none were Western students.

Nevertheless, this "riot" in the community we are proud to call home has stunned us all, for it is so out of character. We are a university consistently recognized as the best of our type in the Pacific Northwest. Importantly in the current context, we are also a university recognized nationally, year after year, as foremost in the state of Washington for the engagement of our students in service to the community.

Consequently, we are all straining to understand why something like this happened. But first some facts as we currently understand them:

  • We are thankful that, at this point, there are no reported serious injuries.
  • We are also thankful that Western students were prominent among those who immediately stepped forward to clean up the area of the riot.
  • While no Western students were among those arrested last night, public safety officers will be reviewing surveillance videos and criminal charges may then follow.
  • Western will be reviewing records from the evening, and should there be evidence of Western student behavior, while not criminal but nevertheless in violation of our student conduct code, then our processes for enforcing that code will be followed.

We are a university that takes great pride in the commitments of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni to making a positive difference. We invite you to join the two of us in reaffirming that commitment. We will be following up with advice on means for so doing. [ Edit: A petition of support for WWU values and of condemnation of the violent events is online here. ]

Again, we do not yet know the extent of involvement by Western students in the events of last night. Arrest records suggest it was a fraction of the several hundred involved. Nevertheless, we are certain of this: 15,000 students, 2,200 faculty and staff, and 100,000 alumni join the two of us in emphasizing that such behavior has no place at Western. And, should any of our students be found to have engaged in lawless and destructive behavior, they have no place at Western.

This is also a teachable moment: for our students, for our university, and for university leaders. We pledge to use this experience as an opportunity to ever more strongly emphasize -- through actions as well as words -- what we proudly and together stand for.