President Alison Byerly sent the following message to the campus community on Nov. 16, 2016.
One year ago this week, as events at the University of Missouri and elsewhere sparked a national discussion about race relations on college campuses, I wrote to you with pride about a student-led forum at which more than 400 students, faculty and staff held a lively discussion about difficult issues. I wrote then that Lafayette offered “a powerful model of the value of open dialogue.”
We are – and must continue to be – that Lafayette.
The last week has seen a dramatic increase in expressions of hatred and bigotry directed at marginalized groups, across the nation and on many college campuses. These acts are appalling to all of us. For people of color, Muslims, Jews, members of the LGBTQ community, women, and other groups who have been targeted, they have created a climate of fear. Many of our own students, faculty, and staff feel personally threatened.
I write to affirm, and ask that we reaffirm to each other, that racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic acts and speech will not be tolerated at Lafayette. Bigotry and intimidation have no place here.
It may seem unnecessary for me to put these widely shared values into words. But we have seen over the last twelve months that words do matter. Rhetoric can create its own reality.
Annette Diorio, vice president for campus life, shared the College’s broad and inclusive statement on diversity in an email to students last week. That email, included at the end of this note, includes detailed information on how to report incidents of bias-related behavior or concerns about your safety.
In the weeks and months ahead, we will encourage students, faculty, and staff to draw upon our differing backgrounds and perspectives to create opportunities for the open and respectful exchange of ideas. We will be defined by what we do to uphold the values we believe in, and to make this country a more equitable and sustaining place for all.
In a few days, we will conclude Rivalry Week by hosting the 152nd Lafayette-Lehigh game. When the community gathers in Fisher Stadium on Saturday, I hope the slogan “Not in Our House!” will stand as a rallying cry for something much greater than a victory over Lehigh.
President Alison Byerly
Vice-President for Campus Life Annette Diorio sent the following message to the campus community on Nov. 11, 2016.
Dear Lafayette Students,
I am writing in in response to several incidents involving threatening messages that have been reported to us by members of our campus community.
We are here to support you, and realize that the election and its aftermath have raised issues about safety and security across the country and on our own campus. A number of college campuses have reported increased incidences of hate speech or harassment of individuals or groups. As an intellectual community, we recognize that the diversity of thought is the foundation of our community. We know that as you work to find your voice on issues there will be opposing viewpoints. Our community is founded upon encouraging free and open expression, but we must draw the line at behavior that threatens or intimidates others. Our 2016‐2017 Student Handbook outlines important information about how various College policies define our approach to specific forms of expression such as peaceful assembly and protest, and distribution of literature. Know that if you choose to respond to posters or banners that you disagree with by defacing them, that is not free speech but a violation of College policy. If you elect to use language that creates a direct threat to the safety of individuals or groups of students, that is a violation of College policy.
Lafayette College has a broad and inclusive diversity statement that was most recently reviewed and amended in 2012 and it states:
Lafayette College is committed to creating a diverse community: one that is inclusive and responsive, and is supportive of each and all of its faculty, students, and staff. The College seeks to promote diversity in its many manifestations. These include but are not limited to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and place of origin. [Revised per 12-03, Board, Oct. 20, 2012]
The College recognizes that we live in an increasingly interconnected, globalized world, and that students benefit from learning in educational and social contexts, in which there are participants from all manner of backgrounds. The goal is to encourage students to consider diverse experiences and perspectives throughout their lives. All members of the College community share a responsibility for creating, maintaining, and developing a learning environment in which difference is valued, equity is sought, and inclusiveness is practiced.
It is a mission of the College to advance diversity as defined above. The College will continue to assess its progress in a timely manner in order to ensure that its diversity initiatives are effective.
Regardless of the national political landscape, we aspire to fully embrace our diversity statement. It is discouraging and disheartening to hear from students who believe that the behavior of their peers is creating an unsafe environment. Students who are concerned for their safety should immediately report any concerns to the Office of Public Safety and can learn about the full range of resources that are available through that office by visiting their webpage. Students, faculty or staff who feel they have been the target of bias-related behavior can report those incidents using the Bias Response form which can be accessed by clicking this link https://studentlife.lafayette.edu/student-health-and- safety/bias-response-team-brt/. Students who wish to discuss any other concerns about the campus climate or who have ideas for how we can best meet your needs through programming can contact me directly, Dean Paul McLoughlin or any member of the Campus Life staff.
Your ability to feel safe and welcome in our community is a fundamental concern for the College, and we will continue to work hard to achieve the full promise of our mission for all students.
Vice President for Campus Life Lafayette College
101 Hogg Hall
Easton, PA 18042
Office Phone: 610.330.5082
Office Facsimile: 610.330.5509
Office Email: firstname.lastname@example.org