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AU Memo Letterhead

February 5, 2019

Dear AU Community,

I am writing to follow up on my email from last Friday, when I wrote to you about the man in a Confederate flag hoodie who came to TDR on Thursday, January 31. I had promised to share more details with the community as we learned them.

The man in the Confederate flag hoodie was not an AU community member. He was at TDR as the guest of an AU student. When students nearby expressed concerns about his presence, an AUPD officer was called to TDR and assessed the situation, talked with the person reporting the concern, and spoke with the subject of the complaint. The officer determined that the man was present at TDR lawfully and was not violating university policies.

We recognize that the symbol of the Confederacy represents much pain, division, and a complex history of slavery and racism. So this episode, brief as it was, has prompted difficult and important discussions about how challenging it can be to resolve the tensions between freedom of expression and diversity and inclusion.

As an educational institution, we continue to grapple with the responsibility that comes from holding values that can come into conflict. This issue underscores the importance of knowing our history and understanding how the past continues to impact the present. Most importantly, it reinforces the importance of doing the hard, continuous work needed to achieve respect and human dignity for all in our community.

Sincerely,
Fanta Aw
Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence
American University
campuslife@american.edu