Dean Susan Welch on Tolerance and Inclusion in a Time of Hate

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October 29, 2018

Dear Members of the Liberal Arts Community:

Dean Susan WelchLast week, I began working on a message addressing concerns about potential changes being considered by the federal government to language about transgender individuals and gender identity.  I want to reassure you that Penn State and the College of the Liberal Arts remain unconditionally committed to preserving a climate free from discrimination on the basis of gender. (Through Policy AD84, Penn State recognizes rights of members of the University community to self-assert a gender.)

However, in light of events that have transpired throughout the nation the last few days, I also feel compelled to address the virulent anti-Semitism that resulted in the murder of eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the malice that prompted assassination attempts on two former presidents and other public leaders and private citizens.  Let me begin by offering my condolences to our students, staff, and faculty whose friends and relatives were victims of the murders in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

In our immediate community, Penn State and the College of the Liberal Arts are committed to sustaining a safe and welcoming campus for all members of our community, including those of all religious beliefs, races, and gender identities and expressions.  The rights and welfare of all groups are fundamental to a climate of inclusiveness that allows students, faculty, staff, and visitors to work, learn, and live in a community free of harassment, prejudice, intolerance, and violence. 

As a University and a College, we will continue in our quest to build a diverse community that celebrates and welcomes all people. Racism and prejudice based on religious, ethnic, or sexual identity are anathema to our University values of free expression and inquiry. (Through policiesAD85 and AD91, Penn State prohibits discrimination and harassment of various forms and will hold individuals accountable for any violations.)

We are fortunate to have within our College many academic units that provide and encourage education on gender, ethnicity, religion, and race, including three where that is their focus: African American StudiesJewish Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. We also have centers whose mission it is to be partisans for democracy (the McCourtney Institute for Democracy) and ethics (the Rock Ethics Institute). I encourage you to take advantage of their programs and resources. 

I also encourage you to visit the College web site that provides links to University units that can assist anyone who witnesses  or feels threatened by acts of harassment: http://la.psu.edu/faculty-staff/need-help/need-help.

As individuals who can vote and who can join together to promote issues we believe in, we can help change the larger society. I encourage all of you who are eligible to vote to exercise your rights as citizens in a democracy as the election approaches.

Sincerely,

Susan Welch, Dean

Penn State College of the Liberal Arts

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