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Baker Report: Celebrating diversity, fostering inclusion

September 15, 2016

Our university community is one that celebrates diversity and fosters inclusion. We share, think and act locally to advance our greater society toward a safe and welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds, beliefs and experiences.

Today at 5:30 p.m., we have the opportunity to put words into action at the third annual Unity March which begins and ends in the MLK Commons.

NIU Provost Lisa Freeman, DeKalb Mayor John Rey and NAACP-NIU President Amirius Clinton and I will lead members of the DeKalb and NIU communities through campus and several nearby neighborhoods to demonstrate our solidarity.

Faculty, staff, DeKalb County residents, law enforcement officers, members of NIU student organizations and leaders of local faith organizations and places of worship will walk with us.
Afterward, we will gather inside the Regency Room of the Holmes Student Center for a skill-building workshop on civil conversation. Learning to work together starts with learning how to talk to one another through civil, honest and respectful exchange of ideas that produce positive, meaningful and lasting changes.

Fruitful conversations are critical at the upcoming monthly series of Diversity Dialogues, where we explore complex and important issues such as social justice, race, faith and freedom of expression. The first event this fall – “Defamation: The Play” – is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium. In October, Bryan Stevenson will visit campus to talk about his book “Just Mercy” as part of the Common Reading Experience. In November, Payton Head will discuss promoting change in the age of social media.

Tonight’s walk is an opportunity to demonstrate that our community is diverse and united. I hope you will join us, and I hope you will take advantage of the all of the events planned for this semester. All are welcome, and all are necessary.

Together forward,