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FIRST ON FOX61: Former professor says UHart failed to respond to hate speech

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WEST HARTFORD — People around the country have been reacting to a story that was first reported on FOX 61.

A University of Hartford freshman was charged after being accused of poisoning her roommate.

A former longtime UHart professor has come forward to share his concerns with parents.

Travis Tucker was a philosophy professor who left the university in May because he said the university failed to respond to messages of hate.

It was the day after the election on November 9, 2016 when Tucker discovered two swastikas on the men’s bathroom wall with the message “They lied about Hitler.”

Tucker was concerned and reported it to campus police. The custodian immediately removed it but nothing was ever mentioned to the campus community.

“I was furious and I know some other people who were furious, as well, because this is a school that has a big percentage of Jewish students in the nation,” said Tucker.

Instead, the university sent an email out to faculty only the next day. It was a guide on how to handle “anxious or depressed and upset students.” They also urged faculty to create a “safer campus community” but there was no mention of the graffiti.

Tucker also said two students found out about the graffiti and complained to then-president Walter Harrison about the lack of transparency. That prompted a community-wide message but still, there was no word on the message of hate found more than a week prior.

“I think the issue with the school is it is struggling financially and it was a situation where a complete lack of institutional and administration integrity put the need or desire for immediate profit first,” said Tucker.

He also had a more personal issue with the university in the spring of 2010 with a student stalker. He said other professors have had issues with the same person. He claimed the administration immediately addressed the issue with other professors, but nothing was ever done in his case and Tucker believed it is because he is black.

Eventually, Tucker said he was forced to leave because he feared for his safety.

FOX 61 reached out to the University of Hartford to see what they had to say about Tucker’s allegations and they said:

“The University does not comment on pending litigation, but will respond to these allegations with facts in the appropriate courtroom forum. It is important to note that the University takes all allegations seriously, remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the law, and takes appropriate action to investigate and address all student, faculty and staff complaints pursuant to federal, state and local laws. The University is committed, by policy and practice, to diversity, equity and inclusion, and to ensuring the safety of our community. As our Values Statement makes clear, ‘[w]e are dedicated to building a culture that respects all of its members and celebrates their contributions as we work together to strengthen our community.’ “

Last week, Tucker learned of Chennel Rowe’s story and it frustrated him to hear her claims that the university tried to hide her ordeal from the public.

“Anger, but not … disbelief. Not surprised,” said Tucker.

He has a message for students and parents.

“I would just tell people to keep their ears open and their eyes open and do their best to protect themselves and to make sure the administration hears you,” said Tucker.

Tucker now has an attorney and he gave FOX 61 a ten-page lawsuit that explained in detail of everything he has been through with the university, a case that is still in its litigation stage.