April 20, 2018
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
This week, the Syracuse University campus was shown very ugly, disturbing behavior displayed by some of our students. A series of videos was uncovered that showed some members of the Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity using racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and ableist language.
This hateful behavior is horrific and does not represent our College or our values. I am deeply saddened by what I heard and saw. Let me be clear: this kind of behavior and the use of this kind of language is unacceptable in Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. We strive to be a community of inclusion and collaboration.
While our entire campus community must continue to earnestly address racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and ableism, it is especially painful to see hate on display in the Engineering and Computer Science community. Women and people of color are considerably underrepresented in our disciplines. Actions like those we saw from some members of Theta Tau only serve to deepen a long-standing divide that has kept brilliant minds on the sidelines. Our College has continuously made efforts to broaden our community through scholarship, programs, and exceptional student support. It is clear that we must do much more to foster a culture of acceptance around diversity.
I attended the Hendricks Chapel dialogues yesterday afternoon and evening. I want you to know that I heard you. I will continue to listen. But, more importantly I will act. And we must act together.
Let us start by beginning a dialogue within our College, with the goal of identifying steps we can take together to foster important change. Today (April 20, 2018), classes in the College of Engineering and Computer Science will be suspended from noon to 2 p.m. to accommodate student, faculty, and staff attendance at a College-wide forum. I will also ask the leadership from every SU school and college to excuse Engineering and Computer Science students from their courses to allow them to attend. The forum will take place in the Law School’s Main Auditorium in 020 Dineen Hall at noon. Additionally, our Student Success Office in Link 121 are prepared to assist students that need to report additional issues and to provide support and connect you with the University’s broader resources during this difficult time.
This forum will only be one of many important steps as we create a pathway for moving forward. At this time, I commit to you the following steps:
- The Dean’s Leadership Team, comprised of all administrators in the College, will participate in mandatory diversity training before the end of this academic year.
- The College’s day-long faculty retreat in August will be devoted to diversity training, with follow-up training annually.
- Diversity education will be integrated into ECS 101, the introduction to engineering and computer science course, taken by all first-year students.
- We will identify ways to integrate diversity education or training into the graduate student experience.
- The College will create a diversity council, comprised of students, faculty, and staff to provide a forum for hearing student, faculty, or staff concerns and to help set and monitor diversity actions within the College.
- We will reexamine College processes for hiring and promotion with the express goal of hiring a more representative faculty and staff in our College.
We are committed to diversity and inclusion in a meaningful way in the Engineering and Computer Science community. We have work to do to prove it. Please help me define and do this work.
Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg
This message was originally distributed to students, faculty, and staff in the College of Engineering and Computer Science via email on Thursday, April 18 at ~4:30 pm.