An open letter to the Elizabethtown College Community from President Strikwerda

The Etownian February 27, 2013 0

On Thursday, Feb. 21, Student Senate and the College administration sponsored an open forum as part of the regular Student Senate meeting. The topic focused on how our college community should respond to the recent bias-related incidents that have occurred on campus.  In addition to Student Senators, members of the faculty, Senior Staff, Campus Security, Human Resources and other administrative offices attended. A wide-ranging discussion took place which explored the resources we have available to protect others from bias and hate crimes, the opportunities we have to educate the campus more effectively about welcoming diversity and how we support those who have suffered from prejudice or hate-filled incidents.
Three important resources are available to the College community:
Online Incident Report Form
Any bias-related incident is serious. In some cases, these incidents may be considered a hate crime. If you have experienced or witnessed such an incident, report it, and encourage others to do so.  Every incident reported will be investigated.
Campus Diversity Advocates
The Campus Diversity Advocates will support anyone who experiences bias or prejudice, help find counseling or other necessary support, and advocate on behalf of others.
Campus Security—Call 1111
Students are reminded that Campus Security is just a phone call away. Campus Security is always on call to assist students, staff and faculty.
Suggestions made at the Forum for immediate action and further consideration were:
• Adding a quick link on the homepage for the online Incident Report Form to improve visibility. This has been done.
• Creating new opportunities to promote inclusive excellence at new student orientation.
• Communicating College policies on when news of a bias-related incident is shared with the campus.
• Providing more support and protection to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community on campus.
• Creating a “buddy system” in residence halls so students watch out for each other on their hall in order to help prevent acts of vandalism or threatening behavior.
• Promoting the large number of clubs and organizations on campus that embrace diversity and encourage students to reach out across all ethnic, racial and religious groups.
• Holding additional forums to discuss issues of bias at times other than after an incident has occurred.
• Calling on all students to have a voice in this issue. The strength of our community is only as strong as the voices our students lend to the challenges we face.
I extend my sincere thanks to Student Senate for partnering with the administration on the Forum and to all those in our community who participated.  By sharing your concerns for the welfare of others and communicating your resolve to continue to make Elizabethtown College a welcoming community, we have demonstrated once again why Elizabethtown College is such a special place.   As always, I encourage your ideas and continued support.

Carl J. Strikwerda

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