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Assistant VP of Campus Life's statement on diversity and inclusion regarding Yik Yak posts

The university takes issues of race relations seriously. We stand for an American University where people of all identities and experiences are understood, appreciated, and fully included in the community, and where equitable treatment and outcomes prevail. 

We don't believe a mandatory course will effect change as some students have suggested. We believe a multipronged approach is the answer and, as an institution, we are committed to creating an inclusive community. Here are the steps we have taken to date:

First and most importantly, we encourage dialogue. We want all students to work with us and with one another to effect the climate on campus. Orientation for all incoming first-year students includes diversity and microaggression discussions to set the tone for interactions as students proceed through their years at AU. Residence hall assistants are provided training and encouraged to create inclusive communities. This semester, we stepped-up our work with the faculty to develop their abilities to discuss issues in the classroom in inclusive and respectful ways. Our goal is to further enhance these curricular efforts over the next few semesters. In 2012, we opened our Center for Diversity and Inclusion which serves as a liaison for students, faculty, and staff, and provides resources to enhance education, outreach, and advocacy. 

Yik Yak is problematic because it is anonymous and it allows people to hide behind offensive and hurtful comments. These posts are acts of cowardice and we hope people recognize them as such. Although the university doesn't have the ability to take posts down, any student who feels a threat to their safety is strongly encouraged to report it to Public Safety and/or the Dean of Students Office. We have the resources and procedures to work with students. Students and the community have the power to "down vote" any post and get it permanently deleted with just 5 down votes. As an institution, we are a microcosm of the larger society and we recognize there is important work to be done on race relations. 

-- Fanta Aw, Assistant Vice President of Campus Life, American University