Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Office of the President

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Affirming our values as a college

Posted on November 19, 2012

To the Campus Community,

Before we pause for the Thanksgiving break, I wanted to update you on what has transpired since last week’s community meeting in Cole Memorial Chapel.

My primary concern lies in ensuring our community’s sense of safety and security. This hate crime has deeply impacted the young women who live in the Jewish Life House and every member of Wheaton’s Jewish community—students, faculty and staff. It has clearly affected many others of us as well, and we need to listen to and support each other.

I also am concerned that, during the meeting, so many other students reported experiencing prejudice and bias or incidents in which they were treated with disrespect. As I’ve said before, incivility and hate have no place on our campus. We clearly have more work to do to become the truly inclusive community to which we aspire.

The large number of students, faculty and staff who attended the Community Conversation in the Chapel—more than 600 people—indicates that we have many hands for the work ahead. In fact, more than 250 students signed up to be involved in future efforts to create a more inclusive and civil campus community. And the response has already begun.

You may be familiar with some of the initiatives that have been launched in response, such as the “Blue Table” discussions that the Division of Student Affairs inaugurated on Friday at lunch in Chase Square. Or the student-organized “We Are Wheaton” campaign in that is now on Facebook as well as on campus. I am also aware of many positive conversations that have happened in classrooms, residence halls and over meals.

Other initiatives now being planned include:

  • · An enhancement to the luminaria lighting that is part of our annual Vespers celebration on Dec. 2 to convey a message of inclusivity.
  • · A campus-wide celebration in the Dimple on Saturday, Dec. 8, to celebrate the start of Chanukah.
  • · Open discussion hours for interested students at the Marshall Center and in the Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility.
  • · A teach-in on appreciating diversity and rejecting prejudice and hate that will be organized by the Student Government Association in collaboration with the faculty.

Members of the college’s Bias Incident Response Team will also explore other efforts to keep the momentum going. In particular, the college has several opportunities to partner with outside organizations on longer-term programs aimed at combating bias and hate. I also expect to charge a campus committee with conducting a study and recommending strategies for long-term and long-lasting changes in campus culture. I will have more to announce on that subject in the near future.

Finally, I want to assure the entire campus that our commitment to enforcing the college’s Honor Code and community standards remains steadfast. Wheaton’s Public Safety Department has continued its investigation into who is responsible for the anti-Semitic graffiti at the Jewish Life House, the hateful graffiti reported in other locations and any other incidents that are reported to us. In the case of the Jewish Life House, officers have conducted interviews with at least 15 people, and they are following other leads to get to the bottom of this hate crime. Anyone who has information on this incident is urged to contact Public Safety.

Every person at Wheaton deserves to feel safe and respected, and all of us share responsibility for creating that kind of community. I am grateful for the efforts of students, faculty and staff to respond to these incidents in ways that help us learn and move forward.

Best wishes for a safe, restful and joyful holiday.

Sincerely,

Ronald A. Crutcher

 

 

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