The Federal Bureau of Investigation continues its investigation regarding a rope tied into a noose found in a Johns Hopkins University-owned building in July, while JHU is engaged in its own separate inquiry into the matter and takes steps to ensure that university workplaces and worksites are free of discrimination and harassment.
FBI investigators have been in regular contact with university leadership about the incident, which is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Johns Hopkins and a construction contractor, Baltimore-based Plano-Coudon, continue to fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
A separate investigation led by the university's Office of Institutional Equity remains in the early stages. OIE has been coordinating with the FBI so as to not interfere with its investigation.
"These are complex matters, and we all want the best possible outcome, but these things take time, often many months," said Bob McLean, vice president for facilities and real estate. "We are prioritizing justice over expediency while also working to establish tangible policies and procedures that reflect our values and make clear our absolute intolerance for racist or discriminatory behavior."
The rope was discovered in early July by a nonaffiliate at a construction site in the Stieff Silver building, a research facility located in Baltimore's Remington neighborhood where renovations of a Whiting School of Engineering laboratory are taking place. Security was enhanced in the wake of the incident and the renovation work was paused for three weeks to reinforce expectations for the project, but it has since resumed and is expected to be completed within a few weeks.
Johns Hopkins is in the midst of a broad review of its contractor standards and policies to ensure the safety, equity, and humanity of everyone working on Johns Hopkins premises. McLean said that his office, in consultation with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Procurement, and the general counsel's office, is developing a code of conduct to be added to all contracts that reflects the university's values and articulates its expectations regarding diversity, inclusion, and worksite culture.
The university's response to the July incident has increased awareness among contractors of these issues and sparked important dialogue, university leaders said. They hope to augment that awareness by ensuring that contractors know about resources available to them for reporting workplace discrimination, harassment, and other issues. This includes placing posters for the institution's anonymous SPEAK2US tip line in all job sites.
"This painful incident gives us an opportunity to reinforce our resolve to take both corrective and proactive steps to address hate when it occurs on our campuses and at our properties," said Katrina Caldwell, JHU's chief diversity officer and vice provost for diversity and inclusion. "We know that we have a better chance of mitigating these types of incidents if we communicate our expectations that the companies that engage with Hopkins enforce policies that clearly address unacceptable and unlawful behavior, design and implement appropriate responses when incidents occur, and engage in activities that communicate these expectations clearly and frequently."
Resources for support and healing are available to the university community through MySupport for faculty and staff and for students through wellness.jhu.edu. Anyone who has information about the Stieff Silver incident or other forms of discriminatory or unethical behavior is urged to report anonymously at 844-SPEAK2US (844-773-2528).
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