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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Our campus climate and the world around us

Dear Campus Community:

As we prepare for the fall semester, we must be aware of the impacts this summer's events have had on our university community members, particularly our students. The multiple killings and targeting of various groups in Minnesota, in many parts of our country, and internationally have enhanced an atmosphere of frustration, fear, and mistrust. These tragic events are jarring and disrupt our lives in different ways. They are particularly upsetting to our UMD community members who are part of the LGBTQI, African American, and Muslim communities being targeted. At our vigil after the Pulse killings in Orlando, I could see and feel the anger, fear, and outrage among our friends, colleagues, and community members. I felt it too, as my son could have been among those targeted.  

Our ongoing commitment to a positive and inclusive campus climate for all at UMD is already challenged by acts and attitudes that run against our core values. The violence this summer has the potential to worsen our campus climate unless we pull together and take steps to combat the destructive forces from those who intend to inflict harm. In spite of our challenges, we have a resilient campus community, and we have great potential to pull together. As they say, events like this can either destroy us, define us, or make us stronger. At the beginning of another academic year, let us work together and choose strength.  

As we continue to grow and enhance our campus climate, please mark your calendars for Tuesday, September 13 to hear the results of our campus climate survey from last fall. We will hold two presentations for students, faculty, and staff at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., each including a Q&A session. From there, I encourage you to participate in follow-up meetings and action planning to be announced.

I would also like to share with you some statements from UMD leaders and resources that can help us along this journey.

  • Utilize your campus change unit change team to engage in conversation.
  • Be familiar with how to report incidents and encourage utilization of these systems and resources.
  • Educate yourself. There are links to resources in Dr. Erwin's message.  As well, the Twin Cities Office for Equity and Diversity has a multi-page online resource guide with articles, books, videos, and websites.  
  • Use your voice. Do what you can to address issues of racism, bias, hatred, as well as engage in conversation in your personal relationships.
  • Find your community(ies). Connect with people you identify as your support group. When you can, be resource or supportive listener to our students.

Thank you for your dedication and continued commitment to UMD. I look forward to a great year and welcoming our new students to campus next week.


Lendley Black