When I wrote last week, I thought it would be my last message to the university community for the semester, but events have occurred since then that merit an additional communication in these final days of the academic term.
We must continue to focus on the critical academic tasks of completing final exams, papers, and projects before leaving for winter break, which remains a priority.
However, fall semester presented a number of challenges for the AU community as serious national issues generated high emotions and calls for action on our campus.
Unfortunately, we also know that in response to the issue of race in America, hurtful messages were recently disseminated through social media that do not reflect AU’s values. While we embrace freedom of expression, I strongly reiterate that bigotry and racism have no place at American University.
I assure you that campus leaders are responding to these important issues. Educational programming, candid exchanges, and opportunities for sustained dialogue are being planned for faculty, staff, and students for when we return from winter break. More on this will follow in future campus communications.
We also know that sexual assault is a priority issue on campuses nationwide, including our own. Despite concerted new efforts aimed at education and prevention, the incidence of sexual assault among our students—as recent as this week—indicates we have a long way to go to reduce and eradicate this problem.
Collectively, we must rededicate ourselves to take responsibility for creating a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment. We will not be deterred from this goal.
As the fall term comes to an end, I wish you all safe travel. Enjoy time with family and friends during the holidays, and return to campus in January with renewed commitment to strengthen American University together.
AU's strategic plan, Leadership for a Changing World, outlines goals and objectives for the next decade at American University. Visit american.edu/strategicplan for more information. (myAU.american.edu login required for some documents)