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Our Responsibility to Campus Diversity

 January 31, 2011

DATE: January 31, 2011
TO: Campus Community
FROM: Royce C. Engstrom, President
SUBJECT: Our Responsibility to Campus Diversity

Last week I learned of an incident of hateful, racially derogatory messages found on campus.  While such instances are rare on this campus, they are inexcusable.  Such conduct undermines everything we stand for here at The University of Montana and I want the campus community to understand that it will not be tolerated.  I expect that each of you will join me in seeking to identify the sources of such insidious behavior so actions can be taken to prevent it from occurring again.

I take this opportunity to encourage you through your own personal conduct to foster an atmosphere of respect for all members of the campus community.  Everyone who steps onto this campus has the right to be treated with dignity.  The ideas, perspectives and experiences that result from a diverse campus population contribute to a robust learning and working environment.

We must recognize that there are members of our campus community who have been historically underrepresented and might still face special challenges.  I ask each of you to take a moment and think about how you can personally support individuals with whom you come into contact on campus and elsewhere.  A good source of information about campus diversity efforts is the Diversity Web site:  http://life.umt.edu/diversity.

During the past year, many individuals have worked diligently to produce The University’s Diversity Strategic Plan.  It is available online at http://umt.edu/eo/diversity/diversityplan.aspx, and I encourage you read it.  I’ll share with you our definition of diversity from the Diversity Strategic Plan:

The University of Montana seeks to enhance diversity by recognizing and embracing the differences in age, ideas and perspectives, disabilities, abilities, creed, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, national origin, race, religious and spiritual beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, and the socioeconomic and geographic composition of its faculty, administrative professionals, staff, and students.

In its effort to enhance diversity, The University of Montana recognizes that particular focused effort must be placed on including members of groups who have historically been subject to discrimination and are still underrepresented in the campus community.

Discrimination can be one of the biggest inhibitors to success for individuals and for the institution as a whole.  The University has policies and procedures to combat discrimination.  Anyone who experiences or is aware of discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, should bring it to the attention of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.  Formal or informal steps will be taken to investigate and stop any such discrimination.  More information is available at www.umt.edu/eo.

Thank you for taking the time to focus on these important matters.  Again, it is incumbent on each one of us to fight against discrimination and intolerance.  Thank you for your help.