UT: West Campus balloon most likely filled with water

UT: West Campus balloon most likely filled with water

UT: West Campus balloon most likely filled with water

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by KVUE.com

kvue.com

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 28 at 9:36 AM

AUSTIN -- The University of Texas has released a statement regarding an alleged hate crime west of campus.

Last week UT junior Bryan Davis was walking on West Campus near Pearl and 23rd Streets when he says someone threw a balloon filled with bleach at him.

“It felt like the attention of the entire West Campus area was on me for that moment, and I wanted to get away. It was embarrassing, and I remember looking around to see if anyone had seen what had happened, and I just kind of went into shock,” Davis told KVUE.

The university says an investigation points to the balloon most likely being filled with water. The school says clothes and pieces of the balloon are being tested.

Officials say accusations that the balloon was thrown because of race are being taken seriously.

Here is the full statement:

"The Austin Police Department and The University of Texas at Austin are cooperating to investigate a report that a balloon filled with bleach was dropped on an individual in the area that is west of campus. Indications are that the balloon dropped last week was filled with water. However, the university has collected clothing and balloon remnants from the site and sent them a lab for further forensic testing.

Even though this event occurred off campus, such reports are distressing and disappointing. The university is actively aiding Austin police in their investigation, and the Dean of Students and our campus climate response team are also currently reviewing these allegations.

We take seriously the concern that this reported incident may have been racially motivated. However, water balloon incidents are not uncommon near campus, especially during fall rush activities. University officials have been working with building managers in the area west of campus to create protocols to help prevent such activities in the future.

Any person who believes such actions are merely schoolyard pranks is mistaken. Throwing balloons filled with any substance on another individual may be considered assault — a criminal offense and, if students are involved, punishable under Chapter 11 of the university’s Institutional Rules and Regulations.

A university investigation of similar reports last fall of balloons containing bleach found no evidence that bleach was used, and the students responsible for that incident were held accountable under the university’s disciplinary system.

Episodes such as these undermine ongoing efforts by the university to create an environment that celebrates its diversity and its value to the community and educational experience. It also is the antithesis to the unity that normally defines this campus. The University of Texas at Austin has long been committed to promoting diversity and ensuring respect and inclusion throughout the campus community. Our university should be a haven and home to students of all backgrounds.

The actions of a few individuals out of a community of more than 52,000 students should not be taken as representative of the entire community. Building a community on a foundation of respect starts with the actions and words of each individual, reflective of the caliber of students we hope to recruit and send back out into the world as our future leaders.
"

Police say they investigated four possible hate crimes in 2012, but the cases were suspended since the victims didn't have evidence.

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