Three University Police Department officers are on paid administrative leave after an officer allegedly shouted “Make America Great Again” at students on the way back to their dorms after the results of the presidential election were announced early Wednesday morning.
President-elect and Republican nominee Donald Trump used the slogan during the 2016 campaign.
“I was disappointed to learn of reports that UPD personnel allegedly used the public address system in their vehicle inappropriately following the results of the election in the early morning hours on Wednesday,” UPD Police Chief Michael Gibson said in an email alerting the student body of the incident Nov. 10.
The UPD and the office of general counsel are investigating the incident, which occurred around 1:50 a.m. Wednesday.
The email provided few details about the incident and did not say what the officers allegedly said over the PA system.
A group of students who protested the Board of Visitors meeting Friday criticized this email as a lack of transparency and included in their demands that the University “terminate the University Police Department employees involved in the hate-based election incident,” according to a release from the group.
“The transparency surrounding that incident was a huge issue that we had problems with — the lack of transparency,” second-year College student Hannah Borja said.
In an interview with The Cavalier Daily, University President Teresa Sullivan acknowledged the frustration the students expressed.
“I do understand the concerns and they explained pretty clearly that the original email was so vague that they didn’t quite understand what it meant,” Sullivan said. “We will talk about a way to make that information more clear,”
In the original email to students, Gibson said the department takes their mission to serve the community seriously.
“Please be assured that UPD remains committed to the highest professional standards in law enforcement and will work tirelessly to enhance the safety of our living and learning environment,” Gibson said.
This story has been updated with additional details about the incident.