Our Commitment to Inclusivity
From the President's Desk
The Rensselaer community consists of a variety of people who may have divergent perspectives. We strive to provide everyone with a safe, secure, and inclusive community, within which all students can thrive personally and academically. Recently the nation learned of disturbing incidents at yet another university related to diversity, inclusion, civility, and tolerance. These types of issues challenge our foundational ideals, and our values as a university. It is important to reaffirm where we stand, because while diversity is a fact, inclusion is a choice.
We are a diverse community with respect to ethnicity, race, culture, religion, geographic origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity. When it comes to creating an inclusive and respectful culture, our focus is to develop students who will possess intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and will have a global view. As such, we are a campus open to the full range of ideas and perspectives, be they political or social. Moreover Rensselaer, in compliance with federal and state laws, has promulgated non-discrimination policies related to discrimination and discriminatory harassment, including sexual harassment and retaliation. That said, we do not support discrimination or discriminatory harassment by any group, and we especially do not support hate and incitement to violence, and certainly not actual violence.
In order to create a more inclusive campus, we have implemented several initiatives:
- We hired four full-time staff members whose focus is to provide advocacy and support for our students, as we advance inclusivity in our community;
- We fully operationalized the Bias Assessment and Response Team (BART), which is a nimble and comprehensive committee with the necessary specialties, talent, and knowledge to respond to incidents of bias or hate;
- We have developed and continue to deliver training programs to educate our campus community on unconscious bias, and to build multicultural sophistication and a global view within our faculty, staff, and students;
- We continue to work with intentionality of care for our students, and we are vigilant in identifying warning signs which point to potential safety concerns;
- We aggressively investigate bias incidents and hate crimes, working with local, state, and federal law enforcement as appropriate; and we take decisive action when perpetrators can be identified.
Our work to foster an inclusive environment is ongoing. In the coming weeks, I will appoint a broad-based Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee to develop strategies and oversee initiatives which nurture and sustain a diverse and inclusive living, learning, and working environment. In the coming months we will conduct a campus climate survey and form a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to address any feedback, concerns, and opportunities for improvement we receive. We will also develop a Diversity, Inclusion, and Campus Climate website to provide ongoing communications and resources.
We choose inclusivity and consider it to be a core dimension of Rensselaer excellence. Forever building on our strengths, we will remain steadfast in our efforts, individually and collectively.