Strengthening our campus community
Posted on December 6, 2012
Nearly a full month has passed since the discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti at 17 Howard Street jolted our campus into reflection and into action. It’s clear that many of you share my determination to stand up for respect and civility as well as a sense of optimism that we can, and will, create a more welcoming, tolerant and open campus culture that reflects our values as a community.
The good work has already begun. I greatly appreciate the energy, inventiveness and spirit behind initiatives, such as the “We Are Wheaton” campaign that arose from a discussion in Professor Donna Kerner’s class. That same sense of fellowship and unity also shone through in this year’s luminaria display and the vespers ceremony that followed. On Saturday, we are planning a community celebration of the start of Hanukkah in the Dimple.
A number of other initiatives have been proposed that are aimed at effecting the kind of long-term changes in campus culture that will help us achieve the sort of inclusive environment that reflects the values espoused in our honor code. These ideas range from a daylong teach-in organized by the Student Government Association in collaboration with the faculty to implementing programs on diversity that are offered by respected outside organizations.
To lead the college in this work, I have charged the President’s Action Committee on Inclusive Excellence (PACIE)—a longstanding group that includes students, faculty and staff—with conducting an examination of how we can most effectively maintain our focus on appreciating and celebrating differences. Through careful study and consultation with the community, they will develop proposals for sustaining a diverse community in which we appreciate differences and learn from each other.
I expect that PACIE’s work will include plans for both immediate action in the New Year as well as recommendations for ongoing initiatives. The committee will complete its full report by the end of the spring semester.
While my main focus is on how we move forward as a college and community, I remain dedicated to identifying the person or persons responsible for the graffiti at 17 Howard Street, if possible. At the moment, our investigations have come to an impasse. Public Safety officers have interviewed those individuals who might have relevant information several times, and they have followed every lead currently available. However, this case will remain open and we have increased the reward for information leading us to the perpetrator(s) to $2,500. Should new information become available, it will be acted upon.
My overriding goals have not changed. I want to make it clear that there is no room for bias, hatred and prejudice on this campus. Instead, this college should be, and will be, a place where every individual feels safe and respected. Each of us has a role to play in creating and sustaining this kind of community, and I welcome your contributions to helping make that a reality.