1.19.23: Update: Off-Campus Assault of Lehigh Student

A message sent to members of the Lehigh community from President Helble.

Dear Members of the Lehigh Community,

Late in the fall semester, we sent a note to our community sharing the news of an off-campus assault of a Black Lehigh student. For all of our students, and especially our students of color following this incident, we want to underscore that your safety and well-being are our highest priority.

Over the past several weeks, the Lehigh University Police Department (LUPD) has worked collaboratively with the Bethlehem Police Department, the lead investigating agency in this case, as they conducted their investigation, and we indicated in late November that we would keep the community informed of updates on the investigation.

As a result of the investigation, the incident was determined not to be a racially motivated assault; however, there was a physical altercation in which racist language was directed at the student who reported the incident to the police. We've been in continued contact with the student, who is doing well, and no charges have been filed by either the student or the other individuals.

What we know about this incident suggests it does not indicate a safety concern for our students. It does, however, remind us we have work to do to achieve an equitable society. At Lehigh, our aim is to foster a sense of belonging and an environment where every student is not only safe on our campus and feels they belong but also can thrive. As we begin a new semester, I want to express my continued commitment to providing such an environment where discrimination and racism, hate, and violence, have no home.

I am grateful to the Bethlehem and Lehigh police for their investigation and to everyone who expressed their concern and support for our student.


Joseph J. Helble ’82