Incident Summary

December 13, 2012

Incident Report

Outcome of Student Court Trials

On December 8, 2012, a Student was tried for violations of the Code of Student Conduct: Disruptive Behavior, Harassment, and Lewd Behavior. The student was found guilty and was expelled.

On December 8, 2012, a Student was tried for violations of the Code of Student Conduct: Disruptive Behavior, Harassment, and Lewd Behavior. The student was found guilty and was sanctioned with Disciplinary Probation through the fall semester of 2013, Alcohol Probation through the fall semester 2013, and 100 hours of community service.

On December 9, 2012, a Student was tried for violations of the Code of Student Conduct: Disruptive Behavior, Law Breaking, Hazardous Acts, and Firearms, Fireworks, Explosives. The student was found guilty and was sanctioned with Disciplinary Probation through the fall semester of 2013, 100 hours community service, and a $500.00 fine.

On December 9, 2012, a Student was tried for violations of the Code of Student Conduct: Disruptive Behavior, Law Breaking, Hazardous Acts, and Firearms, Fireworks, Explosives. The student was found guilty and was sanctioned with Disciplinary Probation through the fall semester of 2013, and 25 hours of community service.

Pre-trial Considerations

In the 24 hours following the incident on November 6, an attempt was made to establish the size of the crowd outside the MSU House.   At its height the crowd was not witnessed by Campus Police, who arrived after the incident cooled and the crowd had largely dispersed, or college administrators, who were on scene after the incident. The best estimate was 40.  The subsequent investigation confirmed that estimate. 

Even in ideal circumstances the ability to build a case against every individual involved is challenging, especially when the incident occurs late at night.  There was sufficient evidence to bring four students to trial.

The Student Court

The Student Court is currently comprised of nine members - three each from the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, elected by their classmates - and the Chairman, elected by the student body. (Freshman court members are not elected until second semester.)  The current membership includes three minority students. 

The Court tries cases which arise from breaches of both the Honor Code and Code of Student Conduct.

If a student is separated from the College, he may appeal to the Appeals Committee, comprised of faculty and students, and from there to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Other Consequences

The results of the investigation were given to the Commonwealth's Attorney.  Any action the Commonwealth's Attorney may take is solely at his discretion and entirely independent of the disciplinary actions of the Student Court.


The media has a job to do, and we respect that.  It is Hampden-Sydney's policy to be responsive to and cooperative with the media whether the story is good or bad.  It should be noted that Hampden-Sydney did not initiate contact with any media outlet.  The Communications Office spoke only with those media outlets which contacted us.  One of those was the Associated Press (AP) and thus the initial story had broad coverage.  An official statement was posted on the Hampden-Sydney Facebook page on the morning of November 9 to correct misinformation circulating on Social Media.

By way of clarification of some of the media coverage, no one "marched" on the MSU House.  There was no physical violence.  The incident was not a "brawl" as that word is generally understood and, certainly, not a "riot."  Such terms were usually used in headlines which preceded more balanced stories. 

Board of Trustees Resolution

Hampden-Sydney College Community Values

WHEREAS, the Trustees of Hampden-Sydney College have ultimate responsibility for governance of the College; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees is accountable for the mission and heritage of Hampden-Sydney College and the transcendent values that guide and shape the College; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the Trustees of Hampden-Sydney College, do hereby affirm that we will continue to commit resources, focus, and energy to ensure Hampden-Sydney College is a civil, respectful, and inclusive community; and  

FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution be spread across the minutes of these proceedings, and that an attested copy of this resolution be made known to the Hampden-Sydney community.

RESOLVED, this fourth day of December, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and twelve.

Ubuntu - A short video about our Brotherhood.

Strengthening the Brotherhood

On Tuesday, November 27, community members gathered in Johns Auditorium to hear a panel comprised of 14 student leaders.  David Coe '14, President of the Minority Student Union (MSU), described it, "a conversation within the community."

The participants touched on numerous issues and the following attempts only to give some sampling of what was said:

The November 6 incident left the overwhelming majority of students embarrassed, ashamed, and frustrated that the reported actions of a few had shaped a public perception of the College.

According to President of the Student Body, Brit McKenzie '13, "Students find themselves in an unknown and awkward situation yet retain optimism that from this event the community can emerge stronger."

When an individual confronts expressed prejudice and makes it clear that it is not acceptable in his presence then everywhere he goes there is a bubble around him in which all know prejudiced speech is not tolerated.  When that one becomes the overwhelming majority, intolerant speech goes away.

Student leaders are committed to opening communication about shared values and to confronting, personally and institutionally, small displays of prejudice that can empower the few to act on their bigotry.

Intolerant speech must never be excused because "he does not really mean it."  Not confronting prejudice sends the signal that it is acceptable.  Individuals who encounter prejudice need to ask the question, "Why?"   At least, those who encounter intolerant speech must simply say, "That is not acceptable here."

Most of the student leaders on the stage on November 26 were seniors and keenly aware of the importance of passing on to the next generation of leaders both the responsibility and commitment to maintaining an inclusive and tolerant campus community and the Hampden-Sydney Brotherhood.

Update on November 6 Incident
November 19, 2012

The investigation into the incident on the night of November 6, 2012, election night, has been concluded.  Five students have been identified for possible violations of the Hampden-Sydney Code of Student Conduct.  The men charged will come before the Student Court.  Since the College will close for Thanksgiving Break after classes on Tuesday, November 20, proceedings will begin after the break.  Consistent with the protocols of the Student Court, names are not released.

President Howard's E-Mail to Community, Parents, and Alumni
November 19

Dear Members of the Hampden-Sydney College Community,

This link will take you to the official statement updating the incident on November 6, election night.

With the investigation by campus police completed and the matter in the hands of the Student Court, we need to respect due process and to have confidence in the student judicial system.

In the 13 days since election night, the Hampden-Sydney community has come together in public meetings and small groups to try to understand both the causes and impact of this event and to condemn the actions of the few who abused those who should be their brothers and brought shame to our College.

Beginning with the Town Hall Meeting on November 7, the Hampden-Sydney community has acted to reaffirm that we will be no less than an inclusive, respectful and civil community.

Student leaders have stepped up.  To quote "A Statement from Student Leadership,"
"As a brotherhood, we consider the students of this campus a collective family regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status...The acts of the night of Tuesday, November 6, 2012, fall far short of the tradition of men at Hampden-Sydney."

On November 13, ninety heads of student organizations gathered for the Presidents Leadership Council, which was opened by Thomas Allen, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.  These men representing the full spectrum of student organizations focused on how the Hampden-Sydney community should move forward.  We have seen strong signs of student organizations pulling together in mutual support.

Student leaders are talking together to improve understanding between fraternity and non-fraternity men who reside on "The Circle."

On November 18, eighteen top student leaders met for three hours under the guidance of Jonathan Zur, CEO of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, both to address student concerns and to plan a community meeting for early in the week following Thanksgiving break.

I have asked for and received preliminary recommendations from the College's Intercultural Affairs Committee (IAC) for programs and activities that will promote an inclusive, respectful and civil community.

We are revising the "Good Men Plan" to include specific educational programming for incoming students on civility, respect and inclusiveness.

We are going through a difficult time, but we will be better; I promise you that.

Student Leader Response
November 9, 2012 

A Statement from Student Leadership

At the heart a good man and good citizen is a gentleman.  Acting as gentlemen at all times and in all places is not only an expectation of Hampden-Sydney Men, it is a tradition that defines us and separates us from the rest.  As a brotherhood, we consider the students of this campus a collective family regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation.

The actions on the night of Tuesday, November 6, 2012, are far from the tradition of men at Hampden-Sydney.  Disrespect, intolerance, hatred, and violence have no home on our campus.  We will not rest until we have uprooted this evil from our school.

The Honor Code and the Code of Student Conduct reflect the most important aspect of being a gentleman - responsibility.  If you were a participant in the events or have knowledge of persons involved, we ask you to take responsibility for yourself and this campus.  Come forward and share any information about the incident with our Student Body President, Brit McKenzie; our Student Court Chairman, Alex Cartwright; our Dean of Students, Dr. David Klein; or our President, Dr. Chris Howard.  The overwhelming majority of this campus will not be defined by the actions of a few; those involved are not our brothers and have brought shame upon Hampden-Sydney.

Brit McKenzie, Student Government President
Alex Cartwright, Student Court Chairman
Fred Antoine, Student Senate Chairman  
David Coe, Minority Student Union President
August Widmer, IFC Chairman  
Ryan Carter, Head Resident Advisor
Ryan Raybuck, Head Resident Advisor-Freshman
John Chambers, Student Senator 
Thomas Ewing, Chief of Staff
Holt Bibee, Senior Liaison to Campus Security

Initial Public Statement

Message from President Howard
November 08, 2012

Shortly after 11 PM on November 6, a group of about 40 students gathered near the Minority Student Union (MSU) house.  In a display of partisan anger, members of the group set off fireworks and broke bottles in response to the presidential election results.  At some point, members of the group shouted racial epithets at the men of MSU threatening them with physical harm.  The members of MSU notified campus security.  The incident lasted less than 45 minutes. The situation was defused and the group largely dispersed by our own students, including fraternity officers, exercising leadership and good judgment.  Just after midnight, Dean of Students David Klein and I went to Fraternity Circle and spent approximately one hour meeting with students to determine what happened.

I am terribly disappointed with the students who participated in this harmful, senseless episode including those men who stood idly by and watched it happen.  There is no place for bigotry or racism at Hampden-Sydney. In response to this incident, I called a Town Hall meeting for the night of November 7.  Nearly 300 members of the Hampden-Sydney community gathered to address this incident and its implications for our community.  I was moved by the responses of our students and the numerous young men who spoke to renew their commitment to our student code of conduct and to reaffirm their desire to live in an inclusive and respectful community. 

Also gratifying has been the support expressed by parents as we address this incident and the impact on our community.

The Dean of Students has assigned an experienced investigator from our campus security team to this case. 

Building on the tremendous outpouring of support from last night's Town Hall meeting, I have asked the Intercultural Affairs Committee led by Dr. Renee Severin to submit a plan on how we can better educate students on what it takes to ensure our community is one marked by inclusion and respect. 

We are an institution of higher learning and, although those individuals responsible for this incident will be dealt with, it should also serve as a teachable moment, and it shall.

The Minority Student Union (MSU)

The MSU was established to help broaden the scope of cultural awareness, diversity, and inclusion throughout the Hampden-Sydney College community. This organization provides its members with an environment where they identify with one another and helps members to educate, lead, and serve in the Hampden-Sydney and larger community.  The MSU is not a fraternity, but is similar to one with the bond it produces between its members.

The MSU, which has over 60 members and is one of the most diverse student organizations on campus, is open to all on campus who are interested in enhancing the community's knowledge on cultural awareness, diversity, and inclusion, while being a part of a unique brotherhood.