Dear campus community members,
I want to reach out today to clearly and strongly condemn acts on our campus that demonstrate intolerance, hate, and bias—specifically, racist comments and swastikas that have been found on walls and other surfaces in campus buildings in recent weeks. Let me state unequivocally that there is no room for this kind of behavior or language at Ithaca College.
Please make sure to read the story that posted today outlining the college's new bias incident reporting and response system. This is a thoughtful, thorough plan that has been in development for many months, aimed at providing those who encounter or experience bias-related incidents around our campus with a responsive, online, and easy-to-use way to report them.
While this is a critical measure, it cannot stand on its own. We must remain committed—individually and collectively—to creating and nurturing a respectful, inclusive, and equitable campus community that values and models full participation. We must recognize that our words and actions have a tremendous influence on one another. And, we must work to exist in the balance between openly voicing our own truth and participating in frank, inclusive, and meaningful conversations. We have incredible collective power to make change when we come together to speak out and up, and when we refuse to tolerate the denigration of members of our community.
Of course, we cannot talk about our responsibility as individuals or members of this campus community without acknowledging the context of our lives. We live in an increasingly divided, contentious, and at times deeply inhumane society, one that often feeds off of incendiary comments and quick, cutting reactions to them. In this climate, space for compassion, empathy, and real dialogue can be difficult to find or to create. We need not reflect this environment at Ithaca College.
Over this past year, I have been incredibly inspired by Ithaca College’s compassion, activism, commitment to action, and deep investment in making our college, our campus, and our world a better place. As an institution of higher education, we have great potential—and great responsibility—to model what is possible for our broader society. On a residential campus such as ours, we can demonstrate what it looks like to respect and honor our differences while valuing our unique and individual contributions to our communities, our professions, and to one another’s lives.
This is difficult work, and it requires a tenacious, sometimes uncomfortable, perseverance as we lean in and learn how to live alongside one another productively and compassionately. Our community is deeply engaged in strong, meaningful work around equity, diversity, and inclusion. We must remain committed to this, and to actively resisting actions and words that diminish our humanity and undermine our potential as people and as members of the Ithaca College community.
Shirley M. Collado