March 26, 2015

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Last night was an extremely important night for our College. The all-campus forum was a generous space in which we could begin to address not just the particular controversy that has engaged us for the past few weeks but also the ongoing issues of injustice that we face on our campus. I am grateful to you for participating so vigorously.

Most moving to hear were the personal accounts of bias and bigotry, experiences that fly in the face of our highest ideals as a college. In my opening remarks, I spoke of our obligation to advance and sustain an environment of learning in which all people feel safe and respected. This means, of course, an environment in which we strive individually and together, every day, to eradicate racism, bigotry and hate. As I said, I regard this obligation to be one of the highest responsibilities of my office.

At the same time, I expressed my strong conviction that upholding the rights of all people to express their views openly, freely – and, yes, passionately – is fundamental to an institution committed to ideals of academic freedom. Last night’s forum was a beautiful expression of those rights in action.

But the forum was also, quite clearly, a call to action. The fact that so many of you attended, that so many of you spoke openly about your experiences, and that so many listened with care and respect is evidence to me that we are ready, as a community, to take on the very important work of making Connecticut College an even more humane and generous place of learning.

In the coming days I will be taking steps to accomplish the near-term goals that I announced last night. I have already begun consulting with key people to name an interim dean of equity and inclusion, while we continue our search for a permanent dean. I have asked the Deans of the Faculty and of Student Life to review our bias protocol and our social media policies. And I will soon begin meeting with groups of students, faculty, staff, and alumni to discuss the possibility of creating a new community council, which would be a space for working collectively on issues that affect all of us.

You will be hearing from the Dean of the Faculty’s office shortly with news of other, related events. I encourage you to attend.

I look forward to working with every one of you to achieve our goals.

I look forward to your participation.

Katherine Bergeron