November 13, 2015
Dear Harvard College Students,
Like many of you, I have been following the events and discussions on other campuses and across our nation about race, inclusion, and the value of open discourse. While I know that dialogue surrounding these issues can be challenging, I want to let each of you know that I am inspired by the way our community has engaged in these difficult, and sometimes, painful conversations.
We know there is more we need to do as a Harvard community to build greater inclusion and mutual respect for one another. Creating a truly inclusive community at Harvard will require each of us to ask ourselves difficult, yet important questions. We need to examine the connections between our practices and the culture we create. We need to re-think how we treat each other on a daily basis, specifically questioning what it means to regard someone else as “them” or the “other” and what boundaries circumscribe our understanding of who we are. And we need to continue to talk openly and honestly with each other and then in turn, listen to each other. Change doesn’t happen overnight. But the steps we are taking now will have a lasting impact on our community.
In the coming weeks I will be inviting you to discuss some specific initiatives that you as students working along-side College leadership have proposed to address structural and cultural biases here on campus.
In the meantime, I wish to reiterate our commitment to supporting all of you, and encourage you to reach out to each other - your friends and fellow students, your faculty and residential leaders - to me and those in my office with any thoughts or concerns about these issues. As a reminder, here is a listing of support resources available to you:
- Office of Student Life Diversity and Inclusion
- The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations
- Office of the Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity and Equity
- Bias Reporting
- Harvard College Women’s Center
- Office of BGLTQ Student Life
- Harvard Chaplains: 617-495-5529, open between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.