We are writing in response to recent hateful acts intended to threaten and divide our campus community.
Hate does not belong on our campus. Anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and misogyny are harmful to us all and run counter to everything it means to be a Volunteer. We stand with those of you who feel threatened and intimidated in this moment and with those of you who feel that their university has let them down in recent years.
This is about more than recent incidents at the Rock. Scrawled messages of intolerance and hate are symptoms of broader underlying issues that we recognize need to be addressed in meaningful, sustained ways.
As an administration, we have spent this week focused on finding ways to address these underlying issues. We dedicated much of that time to engaging with and listening to students, faculty, and staff in a series of small-group discussions. We asked for openness and honesty in these conversations, and we worked hard to offer the same in return.
We asked what actions and solutions would be most meaningful as we work toward a more inclusive campus. A few themes emerged from these conversations:
Safety & Security
Campus safety is our top priority. UTPD has taken some immediate steps to respond to the specific security concerns of the past few weeks, including an increased physical presence in the area around the Rock. Continued improvements in the department’s community liaison program will help connect police with our community leaders and ensure that our officers are there for you when and how you need them. We encourage everyone to download the LiveSafe app and use it to connect with UTPD and other campus resources.
Feeling safe is also about knowing you belong. We are committed to better connecting members of our campus with one another and to investing in programs and offices that support our fellow Volunteers in difficult times.
It is important to connect our diversity and inclusion efforts to our core mission of education. There is great interest in organizing a series of lectures, seminars, or colloquiums to address issues brought to bear by hate speech. Curriculum materials and learning modules are also desired, along with learning opportunities for faculty, staff, and students. We will build knowledge and bring an educational focus to this work.
Coordination of Efforts
A lot of good work is being done on campus to advance our diversity and inclusion priorities. However, these efforts are decentralized and often uncoordinated. Events are often poorly attended and program organizers feel unsupported. We recognize that long-term structural improvements are needed, and we are working toward that goal. In the short term, we will bring these resources and opportunities together in ways that make them more accessible and visible.
We need to talk to and hear from one another. Many of you have suggested town halls and discussion forums as effective means for building a more open and welcoming culture. There is also a need for ongoing communication efforts that allow every individual to have a voice in shaping our community. We will find ways in the coming months to facilitate more thoughtful dialogue and discussion.
It is important to us, the chancellor’s cabinet, that we acknowledge the above and be held accountable. We ask for your continued guidance and collaboration as we do the work needed to put these words into action.
Let’s continue to stand with one another, together as Volunteers.
Wayne T. Davis, Interim Chancellor
Chip Bryant, Vice Chancellor for Advancement
Vincent Carilli, Vice Chancellor for Student Life
Chris Cimino, Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration
Phillip Fulmer, Director of Athletics
David Manderscheid, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor
Robert Nobles, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research