You are here: American University Student Affairs Use of Racist Language

AU Memo Letterhead

April 7, 2019

Dear AU Community,

In a residence hall lounge last night, a student used a racist term in the context of a discussion among students about language and freedom of expression. One of the students who was in the discussion posted part of the exchange in a video on Twitter, along with their concerns. 

The university responded to the tweet and video. We do not condone the use of racist language. We recognize the harmful impact.

It is vital that we recognize the historical context of the language we use. A slur that has been used in the context of racism, bigotry, discrimination and violence does harm when it is used without understanding its context and painful impact on members of our community.

Since we became aware of this situation, staff have been working with students who were directly involved and affected. Our next steps will be guided by our Student Code of Conduct (Section V in Code: Definitions and End of Section XVI in Code: Sanctions) and restorative processes that begin to repair trust and relationships. We encourage engagement with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, The AUx2 Council, Community Directors in Residence Life (for students living on campus), the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Human Resources, and The Center for Teaching, Research and Learning.

These situations challenge our community and are painful. We remain committed to building an inclusive community where every member feels valued and is treated with respect and dignity. 

Fanta Aw
Vice President of Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence
American University