Bob Howe, Senior Director of Communications, took the fall for describing two men who allegedly assaulted a Fordham student this week as “two male blacks” in a security alert that was emailed to the student body Thursday, causing an uproar on campus.
After fuming students flooded the inboxes of Howe and Public Safety, expressing apprehension about the offensive characterization of the men, Howe issued a public apology on Friday.
“Please accept my heartfelt apologies for the loaded description (“male blacks”) of the assailants I used in the Feb. 26 Public Safety alert,” he said. “Although I intended no insult, the phrasing was clearly offensive and hurtful, and I never should have used it.”
“As I said to some of the students who expressed their concerns to me privately, I do understand the historical weight that certain phrases carry, and I’m genuinely sorry to have caused distress with my poor choice of words.”
Howe went on to say that Fordham uses physical descriptions, including race, in security alert emails “when the victim is confident he or she can identify the assailant” in an effort to warn other students if the assailants remain at large.
The assailants are not believed to be Fordham students, sources said.
When asked why he apologized and not John Carroll, director of Public Safety, Howe told Fordham Daily: “My mistake, my apology. Since the insulting term was public, the apology should be, as well.”
The security alert came from the email address of Fordham Public Safety.
Carroll raised eyebrows Thursday after telling Fordham Daily that students should reevaluate who their friends are as a result of this week’s assault, which took place in off-campus Fordham housing.
“All of us, including our students, must consider who we have as friends or acquaintances,” Carroll said in an email to Fordham Daily.