November 16, 2016

Our Values as a Community

President Alison Byerly sent the following message to the campus community on Nov. 16, 2016.

One year ago this week, as events at the University of Missouri and elsewhere sparked a national discussion about race relations on college campuses, I wrote to you with pride about a student-led forum at which more than 400 students, faculty and staff held a lively discussion about difficult issues. I wrote then that Lafayette offered “a powerful model of the value of open dialogue.”

We are – and must continue to be – that Lafayette.

The last week has seen a dramatic increase in expressions of hatred and bigotry directed at marginalized groups, across the nation and on many college campuses. These acts are appalling to all of us. For people of color, Muslims, Jews, members of the LGBTQ community, women, and other groups who have been targeted, they have created a climate of fear. Many of our own students, faculty, and staff feel personally threatened.

I write to affirm, and ask that we reaffirm to each other, that racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic acts and speech will not be tolerated at Lafayette. Bigotry and intimidation have no place here.

It may seem unnecessary for me to put these widely shared values into words. But we have seen over the last twelve months that words do matter. Rhetoric can create its own reality.

Annette Diorio, vice president for campus life, shared the College’s broad and inclusive statement on diversity in an email to students last week. That email, included at the end of this note, includes detailed information on how to report incidents of bias-related behavior or concerns about your safety.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will encourage students, faculty, and staff to draw upon our differing backgrounds and perspectives to create opportunities for the open and respectful exchange of ideas. We will be defined by what we do to uphold the values we believe in, and to make this country a more equitable and sustaining place for all.

In a few days, we will conclude Rivalry Week by hosting the 152nd Lafayette-Lehigh game. When the community gathers in Fisher Stadium on Saturday, I hope the slogan “Not in Our House!” will stand as a rallying cry for something much greater than a victory over Lehigh.

President Alison Byerly