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Members of the Ithaca College community:

I was outraged and deeply saddened when I heard that acts of bias have once again taken place on our campus. This past weekend, explicit and angry racist graffiti were found written in several locations around the Towers Concourse and the rainbow flag symbolizing gay pride was stolen from the “free speech” flagpole.

As I said at my all-College address on March 15, heinous actions of this type, obviously born of ignorance and intolerance, have no place in a community that values diversity. And let me assure you that we are such a community. All of us -- students, faculty, and staff members alike -- must feel free to pursue our education and our work in a nurturing and safe environment. I urge us to not let these acts tear us apart but instead to bring us together. While I truly believe that these actions are being carried out by a small fraction of our community, we are all responsible for working together to build a campus that accepts and embraces our diversity, individually and collectively.

The Office of Public Safety is vigorously investigating these incidents. I implore anyone with information that would be helpful in determining those responsible to please contact the Office of Public Safety at 274-3333. Your confidentiality will be maintained. In addition, if you are ever the victim of a bias-related incident, please contact the Office of Public Safety or reach out to a member of the faculty or staff, whichever you find more comfortable, to seek support and assistance.

There will be a student-planned rally, “Erase the Hate” this Thursday, April 14, at noon at the free speech rock near the campus center. I urge you to attend this important gathering, to show support for changing the climate on this campus.

Our challenge is great, but our opportunities and our potential are greater. We can do better, we will do better.

Sincerely,
Peggy R. Williams, President

Important Message from President Williams | 13 Comments |
The following comments are the opinions of the individuals who posted them. They do not necessarily represent the position of Intercom or Ithaca College, and the editors reserve the right to monitor and delete comments that violate College policies.
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Important Message from President Williams Comment from novak on 04/12/2005
We are all in this together.

The people that do this really don't know what they are doing and do not know themselves and their hidden motives that are based on fear.

I think the teachers among us may consdier to integrate it with teaching and I intend to do it in my classes.

--Dani Novak
Important Message from President Williams Comment from fchandr1 on 04/12/2005
We need to stand united against this show of hate and disrespect - it will
not be tolerated at Ithaca College.

For students in London and abroad: Wear a white top to support the "Stop
the Hate" rally. Even though we can't be there in person, we can stand in
solidarity with our fellow classmates.

I encourage everyone to stand up, and make it clear that this destructive
behavior is not acceptable under any condition. Together, we can make
positive change.
Euphemisms Don't Make the World Work Comment from atrabka1 on 04/12/2005
I don't have anything to say about these acts that haven't been already said, or will be said in the future. They have no place anywhere in this society, let alone on this campus, and are completely out of line.

However, I feel that confronting these acts with euphemistic speech is futile. In my three years here it's appeared to me that this school is trying to attach a negative connotation to the word "bias" where it doesn't exist. Choosing rocky road over mint chocolate chip is an act of bias, or paper over plastic. Let's call a spade a spade and term these horrible acts as what they really are: acts of bigotry and intolerance, there's no need to sugar coat it.
Important Message from President Williams Comment from rsims on 04/12/2005
I have had the pleasure of working here for many years. And thankfully this sort of thing has happened but less frequently as the years pass by. Unfortunetly there will always be a few who try to bring everyone else down. Stay strong help those in need the best thing I've seen happen in many years was the implementation of SAFE SPACE.
Important Message from President Williams Comment from frowland on 04/12/2005
This is more than hate: It is fear. These people are afraid. Maybe they are unsure of their own sexuality.
Important Message from President Williams Comment from ddelacr1 on 04/12/2005
I am personally afraid. Afraid that I am sitting next to these individuals who hold so much hate towards my skin type or my culture or my ethnicity in class. Afraid that I am walking by them in campus center or in back of them in line for lunch. This is hate.
Important Message from President Williams Comment from mwechsl1 on 04/13/2005
As optimistic as I am about Ithaca trying to change the "bias" on campus, I do not believe that anything will change without educating the student body and especially the few students who commit these acts of hatred. If this topic is at all relevant in class (and in most classes just by virtue of this being Ithaca, it should be) please, professors, lead an open discussion. If you hear a friend use a derogatory term, even if it is not specifically meant in a hateful way, stop them and explain why it is offensive. Everyone is much more likely to change if all of our peers encourage it.
Important Message from President Williams Comment from bcostello on 04/13/2005
Michael and Dani are right - it will only change if each and every one of us becomes a living advocate of tolerance, and not just an observer.
Important Message from President Williams Comment from aelliso1 on 04/13/2005
I'm happy to see that people are talking about these events and showing that they care. The first thing we have to do to make things better is to stop using the word "tolerance". You tolerate a smell, an annoyance. Diversity shouldn't be tolerated, it should be valued.

Unfortunitly I'm abroad right now and can't be on campus to help. I do plan to wear a white shirt Thursday to show my support.The fight against hate is long and hard, but hopefully we will each leave this world a littlte better than we found it. Keep the faith.
Tolerance Comment from bcostello on 04/13/2005
I did wonder if someone would comment on my choice of using that term.
Defensibly, American Heritage Dictionary's primary definition for it is:

"The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs
or practices of others."

That is the spirit in which I used it. However, I understand the less
favorable connotations that come with it. And as much as it is hard to
accept, it would be hypocritical to ask someone who's religion teaches
them that certain things are wrong to value those things -- I do, however,
think it is very human and very relevant to ask those people to be
tolerant. Hence my use of the word.
Tolerance Comment from emesok1 on 04/14/2005
It is obvious that no one here would advocate the disrespect of anyone's personal culture or choice. However, I think that the distrust in the word "tolerance" is certainly understandable, in that it stems from liberalism, where tolerance always presupposes a standard of whiteness. To "accept" someone would be to understand them, to attempt to expand your worldview in order to include theirs. To "tolerate" someone is to say that their worldview may be worthy to them, but could never be to you. The danger in this, is that tolerance is always exclusionary, and is always accessed from the person in power. Tolerance is always done from the top down, never the bottom up. Although this may be an abstact reasoning it works for me, because it allows me to see those who are usually not in view, to access perspective which are generally never accounted for.
Thus, this rally should not be about having no tolerance for the people who committed these acts. It should be about expansion, education, and understanding. Claiming that we have no tolerance for them would simply legitimize the claim that they have no tolerance for us. Let us be choosy with our words and productive in our action.
Important Message from President Williams Comment from luhll on 04/14/2005
I certainly agree with the comments regarding the need to educate students about tolerance, and to hold public forums regarding these "hate" incidents. However, as we all know, while it rallies people around a common cause, those who go to these events are already staunch supporters.
I feel very strongly that until the college takes a "Zero Tolerance" position and writes policy to this effect, the people who perpetrate these acts will not take it seriously. And, it's important to follow through in spite of the unpleasantness of dismissing a student who engages in these kind of activities.
If the college is truly committed to diversity and ensuring the safety of all students, this is the next essential step.