Memorandum February 19, 2020
- AU Community
- Sylvia M. Burwell, President
- Addressing Racist Language in Our Community
Last night, an upsetting video of an AU student using racist language appeared on social media. This language has no place at American University and is the opposite of our values. It causes enormous pain and anguish, particularly for our Black community and our communities of color. We know words of racism, bigotry, discrimination, and violence are traumatizing, create lasting damage, and make people feel unwelcome and unincluded. I find this language offensive, and I am saddened that it happened in our community.
The university began taking action as soon as we learned of the event. The Office of Campus Life, the Provost’s Office, and other stakeholders are reviewing the matter and its impact. We are engaging students, faculty, alumni, and staff across our campus who are hurting from this incident and working with them on restorative actions. We are also reaching out to faculty to support conversations taking place in the classroom and are listening to our community to understand the best path to healing. Further steps involving the students in the video will be guided by the Student Code of Conduct.
I know many parts of our community are expressing their views and concerns, and that is a critical part of moving forward. I encourage any member of our community to reach out for support and to utilize AU resources including the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Dean of Students Office, the Counseling Center, the First Year AUx Team, and the Office of Human Resources.
As an educational institution, we must work to recognize and understand the historical and ongoing impact of racist language. We must have hard and authentic conversations, do better, and be better.