To live out our values of equality, diversity, justice, human rights, and public service, we must respond to hate in all its forms. When members of our community have been targeted by hateful and racist acts, we have come together to respond with unity and support for our fellow Eagles.
It's important to reflect not only upon the pain suffered but also the progress made at American University. Under the leadership of President Sylvia M. Burwell, AU has made progress both in addressing acts of bigotry and working to shape an environment that is welcoming to everyone.
Our goal is to ensure that all members of the AU community feel included and have a sense of physical and emotional safety. Accordingly, we committed $121 million over the next two years to create fundamental change and make our campus more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Developing a culture of inclusive excellence
We listened. To develop AU's AU
Plan for Inclusive Excellence, leaders met with more than 1,000 faculty, staff, administrators, students, and alumni. We carefully reviewed campus survey data and asked outside experts to help us address our issues. Addressing a specific incident in September,
President Burwell led a gathering at Kay Spiritual Life Center to dialogue with the community after offensive, racist confederate flag posters were found around campus. President Burwell, Dr. Ibram Kendi, Dr. Fanta Aw, Doron Erickzon of the Anti-Defamation League, and head of Public Safety Phil Morse talked about what had happened, listened to community concerns about campus safety, and shared what steps were being taken to increase public safety.
- We owned up to our problems. We conducted a candid self-assessment and found that more students of color experience bias, and feel alienated and unsafe, compared to their white peers.
- We took action. We expanded and significantly funded our efforts to address those problems, including via our two-year Plan for Inclusive Excellence.
Teaching and scholarship
- We are making mutual understanding part of our curriculum. In 2017, we rolled out and expanded The American University Experience (AUx), which helps students transition to their first year at AU. It covers critical themes including freedom of expression, diversity, bias, and privilege, exploring and expressing identities, building academic success, finding community, and setting goals for success. In the fall of 2018, AUx will be rolled out as a mandatory full-year course for students transitioning into their first year of college at AU.
- We are creating new centers of scholarship. The Antiracist Research and Policy Center and the new major on African American and African diaspora studies, as well as the most diverse Alumni Association Board in AU's recorded history, offer diverse perspectives and venues for critical thinking.
Stopping unwelcome visitors. AUPD has changed its approach to dealing with the posting of unwelcome or bias-based materials at our campus by groups who have no legitimate reason to come here. Those who try are being stopped, questioned, and sometimes barred. Those who are barred are forbidden from re-entering our campus. Those who re-enter campus after being barred are subject to arrest by University Police.
- Incorporating community feedback. After listening to feedback from members of the community, in 2018, AUPD began a pilot program, locking the Mary Graydon Center from 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., making it accessible only with an AU keycard. This pilot proved successful and will continue.
Continuing to educate the AU community about safety. AU Public Safety continually meets and interacts with members of the AU community to help increase their knowledge of how to stay safe on and off campus. AUPD carries out safety and preparedness training both for police officers and for students, faculty and staff.
- Changing with the changing environment. American University Police takes a proactive approach to physical security. AUPD has stepped up its use of video cameras, sometimes as a tool to gather evidence for investigations, but also to identify people who may be violating AU rules, policies or the law.