The following letter was sent from President R. Gerald Turner to the campus community on Tuesday, November 10:
Dear members of the SMU community:
In recent weeks, SMU students and others have been engaged in important discussions about instances of racial insensitivity and intolerance within our community. I would like to thank all those who are leading and participating in these discussions, including the more than 200 students, alumni, faculty, staff and others who attended last week’s town hall meeting organized by student leaders.
I believe these conversations will bring greater understanding, leading to positive change. We as an institution of higher learning must continue to battle ignorance and intolerance through education and forums that encourage civil discourse. Diversity is a value, a commitment and an integral part of our mission. We must promote a learning environment that is welcoming, inclusive and respectful of each member.
The Greek Life Diversity Task Force is continuing to gather information from students, faculty and staff members for upcoming recommendations. To provide input, please contact task force co-chair and Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Creston Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the same time, students are reminded that the Student Code of Conduct is currently open for its annual review, and suggested changes can be submitted to the Student Senate on Orgs@SMU through Nov. 20. The Student Senate also has created an Ad Hoc Committee on Inclusion and Diversity.
Important diversity issues also are being deliberated by the SMU President’s Commission on the Status of Racial Minorities. SMU is proceeding with plans to establish an Intercultural Center to coordinate the efforts of existing offices and programs to promote a welcoming campus environment.
With regard to offensive and anonymous comments posted online, I want to underscore that these are abhorrent to SMU and are in direct opposition to our values and standards. They demonstrate the vital importance of ongoing education and dialogue about diversity. It is especially troubling when commenters hide behind anonymity in an effort to cause harm to individuals and institutions. Students with concerns about online comments or those experiencing disturbing behavior from others should contact the Office of the Dean of Student Life (214-768-4564); those who feel their safety is threatened are urged to contact SMU Police (214-768-3333). Additional campus resources available for assistance are listed below.
Thank you for continuing this important conversation.
R. Gerald Turner