Letter to Campus Community
October 7, 2008
I write this letter to remind our campus community that harassment and acts of intolerance are fundamentally at odds with the core values of Western Illinois University and will not be tolerated. In response to a recent incident involving a symbol that has been historically used to threaten and intimidate others, the University Diversity Council, co-chaired by Cathy Couza and Ron Williams, will be discussing programming to increase awareness of the impact of symbols and language.
When individuals, regardless of intent, become the focus of personalized, derogatory comments or acts based on prejudice, it makes it even more important that we affirm our University's commitment to the principles of justice, equity and diversity. Conduct that is intended to intimidate is not a "prank." We expect all members of this community to behave with civility, and we will not accept behavior that threatens the safety of our students and staff.
It is the policy of Western Illinois University that all faculty, staff, and students work and study in an environment that is free from harassment based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, disability, marital status, or veteran status. Students and employees should contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access to report any harassment they experience, witness, or which is reported to them. No student or employee should assume an official of the University is already aware of a situation or incident. The University will make certain that anyone who undertakes such contemptible behavior will be held accountable.
I assure you that Western Illinois University strives to provide an educational and working environment that is free from harassment for faculty, staff, and students. We are a university that values diversity and expects that every individual will be treated with respect. Let me reiterate that incidents of harassment and those identified as a hate crime will be met with appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including separation or dismissal from the University. Further, the University will prosecute anyone responsible for such acts to the full extent of the law.
We affirm our commitment to ongoing programming to increase awareness and create understanding, such as the recent exhibit in the Leslie F. Malpass Library that commemorates the centennial anniversary of the Springfield Race Riot of 1908. In addition, the library will host the lecture, "Fighting as We Build: African Americans Constructing Community and Resisting Racial Violence in Illinois, 1890-1919" at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 9, in the Garden Lounge of the Malpass Library. I invite the campus community to attend this program, as well as the many other educational opportunities available throughout the year.
I encourage you to take positive steps to assist in creating a campus climate that is respectful, civil and supportive of all students and staff.