These are difficult times for race relations in our country, and I want you to know that I am as concerned about the outcomes of the events in both Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., as you are.
I want you to know that I have heard your concerns about issues on our campus and in the community. Members of the NIU administration (Student Affairs & Enrollment Management; Outreach, Engagement & Regional Development; Police & Public Safety; and Academic Affairs) are working in collaboration with members of the DeKalb community and city officials to address these concerns.
Please continue to share your concerns with us so that we can support you.
Some of you might be struggling with feelings of anger and frustration, which may make it difficult for you to focus on your studies. I encourage you to seek support from the many offices available on campus, including the cultural centers, where there are professionals trained to help facilitate dialogues and help students navigate through difficult periods like this one.
During finals week, I urge you to honor the time and energy you have put into your academics to get to this point.
As an institution, one of our stated values is that we are “a community of diverse people, ideas, services and scholarly endeavors in a climate of respect for the intrinsic dignity of each individual.”
In pursuit of that, our campus community is continually working to build strong relationships and break down cultural barriers. The Unity March held Oct. 21 was an important step in building relationships with others in our community and set the stage for ongoing dialogue. We are continuing to work with students and others to facilitate discussion and to address issues important to students so that all members of our campus community can be free to pursue their academic and other goals.
Throughout the year, we are committed to creating an inclusive community; our commitment to supporting diversity is strong. For example, trained facilitators have worked with many UNIV 101/201 classes, student organizations, and other areas to facilitate dialogues about various tenets of diversity through our Dialogue on Diversity program.
Also, a group of individuals has been working since the start of the academic year to plan activities for this January in commemoration and honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Representatives from many student organizations are involved in the planning of these activities. Further, we are reviewing and revitalizing the Unity in Diversity Steering Committee in order to better facilitate strategic discussions about many of the concerns students have raised.
I commend our students for their peaceful methods of speaking up and making sure their voices are heard. For many weeks now, students have been working with faculty and staff, and on their own, to find ways to tell others what they think and how they feel about the events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland and other places around the country. These are important expressions of belief. As a campus community, we need to create the space for each of us to be free to speak about what is important to us.
As we continue to find ways to participate in civil dialogue, we will continue to build the bridges between us that will strengthen our community and prepare us for any challenge.
Together we are stronger, and we will move forward, together forward.
In Huskie Pride,
Eric A. Weldy, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management