To our iSchool Community of students, faculty, and staff:

We are all appalled and ashamed of the behavior exhibited in the Theta Tau Video that went viral this week.  This is not reflective of the principles of acceptance of diversity in all aspects here in our school and our University.

We strongly affirm Chancellor Syverud’s statement that there is absolutely no place at Syracuse University for behavior or language that degrades any individual or group’s race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, disability or religious beliefs.

 The Chancellor’s response serves as a reminder that we will address violations of codes of conduct with swift and appropriate consequences, and that we must be diligent in our commitment to foster a community where all our students feel welcome and are treated with dignity and respect. 

This is both a stopping point and a turning point.  We must stop to listen so that we can hear, understand, and respond.  And, we must use this as a turning point to make tangible changes in how we galvanize our campus community to be inclusive and welcoming. 

On Wednesday, Dean Brian Konkol of Hendricks Chapel, began by hosting two forums for community dialogue regarding these recent, disturbing events. Next week we will be holding an iSchool forum, open to all – students, staff, & faculty – with the goal of engaging in conversation and problem solving where we can work to improve the situation in our school and our university, by investing in each other and our institution and bring our iSchool to an optimum level of openness and acceptance of all.  You will be advised of time and place as soon as determined.

Further, towards the goal of openness & acceptance, we will be conducting implicit bias trainings across the iSchool for faculty, staff, and students together; including training on respectful classrooms and respectful meetings; ensuring that our vision and values statement include expectations of respectful conduct, and; developing open school-wide forums for the remainder of this year and to begin again in the fall on the following topics:

  • What is it in today’s society in general, and the Syracuse campus specifically, that fosters this kind of hate speech?
  • How does a supportive academic community hold firm to its values when current national behaviors and attitudes seem to condone this kind of behavior?
  • What does accountability for one’s actions mean in the digital age? 
  • What punishment fits the crime of violating college values?
  • How can faculty be better role models to students?

I seek your support and contributions to our conversation and initiatives. Please feel free to contact me, or visit me to share your thoughts, ideas, and specific suggestions.