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A message for the Smeal Community from Dean Charles Whiteman

February 19, 2021

A recent spate of Zoom-bombings serves as another stark reminder of the trauma that our students, staff and faculty of minority communities endure daily. Within the past several weeks, the Black Caucus and the University’s Gender Equity Center were the targets of individuals spewing hate-filled speech and imagery. 

As I have stated many times in community town hall meetings and email messages, the adverse impact of such attacks, micro-aggressions, suspicious looks, exclusions from groups and racist imagery is greater than any person should have to suffer.  

We stand in solidarity with the members of the Black Caucus, the Gender Equity Center and other groups targeted by these vicious acts. We are also listening to suggestions regarding how we can show our support by making donations, showing up for minority students, holding leaders accountable and working to become an anti-racist organization. 

Guided by the work of the Smeal Diversity Task Force, we will continue to create a sense of belonging across our college and make Smeal a truly diverse and equitable environment. In doing so, we will continue to fight and speak out against racism in all its forms: overt and implicit, individual and systemic. We will also continue to educate the members of our faculty and staff while offering opportunities for meaningful conversations. 

Many of you are aware that we have teamed up with Dell to develop a special curriculum focused on equity and inclusivity. Several members of our diversity taskforce are working on a toolkit to foster more equitable recruiting, selection, and retention of staff and faculty.  

While we have much more work ahead of us, I am inspired by the direction in which we are headed and our universal, steadfast commitment to doing more for the students, faculty and staff of minority communities. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to review our new Diversity Statement, which outlines our commitment to making Smeal a diverse, equitable culture “in which everyone feels safe, valued, respected, and empowered to bring themselves fully and authentically to our campuses and classrooms.” 

Thanks, as always, for joining me in this important journey. 

Sincerely,

Chuck

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