University of Arizona students call for action, accountability following reported assault

University of Arizona students call for action, accountability following reported assault

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Emotions were running high at the University of Arizona Friday as students demanded answers in the handling of a reported assault case involving an African American student.

In an email sent to employees and students Thursday night, President Robert C. Robbins said there was an active criminal investigation into the alleged assault. The student was allegedly physically assaulted by two students after they called him a racial slur, according to school officials.

University police arrested the two students -- Matthew Reed Frazier, 20, and Matthew Spencer Rawlings, 19 -- Friday afternoon. Both were charged with misdemeanor assault.

The case will now go to the Pima County Attorney’s Office for review.

“I feel like the university tried to sweep this under the rug. That they tried to dismiss the students, the feelings that we would have as a community about this incident," said Christian Henry, a University of Arizona student and member of the Black Student Union.

Henry joined hundreds of other students and members of the community in a march through campus Friday afternoon. He said the goal for the group was to speak up after the serious incident and support the victim who chose to remain silent.

Matthew Frazier and Matthew Rawlings were arrested on misdemeanor assault charges in connection with an incident on the University of Arizona campus on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Matthew Frazier and Matthew Rawlings were arrested on misdemeanor assault charges in connection with an incident on the University of Arizona campus on Tuesday, Sept. 10. (Source: Pima County Sheriff's Department)

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Protest moves through campus after alleged assault of an African American student. >> https://tucsonne.ws/2ky5wym

“It wasn’t just words, this was action behind it," said Henry. "It’s going even further and we don’t want that type of mindset to be promoted.”

According to the most recent data available from the University of Arizona, there has been an increase in reported hate crimes on campus.

The university’s “Campus Safety, Security and Fire Report” from 2018 includes details of the reported incidents. In 2015, one incident was reported, four in 2016 and five in 2017.

Five of the 10 reported hate crimes were characterized by racial bias.

“I want our community to know that racism, bias and violence will not be tolerated at this University,” Dr. Robbins wrote in his email Thursday night.

To read the full email from Dr. Robbins, click HERE.

Henry said some were concerned with the lack of an immediate alert sent out by UAPD after reported incident. He said all students and community members should feel safe on and around campus.

“When students come to the University of Arizona, they shouldn’t feel unsafe," said Henry. “The mission here is to make sure those two students that did it are held accountable, that the university doesn’t sweep it under the rug, that they make it known."

Copyright 2019 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.