TU president responds to call for anti-racism

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By: Kim Schatzel, TU President

Dear Editor-in-Chief Carley Milligan, Senior Editor Cody Boteler, Columnist Sey Elemo, Towerlight staff, and all members of Towson University’s faculty, staff, and student communities:

I carefully read Ms. Elemo’s open letter to me in the March 8, 2016 issue of The Towerlight.

When published, I had been serving in my role as TU president for about six weeks—a fast-paced, challenging, and most inspiring introduction to campus for me.

During that time, I met with hundreds of faculty, staff, alumni and students, asking them about their TU experiences and what makes Towson University distinct and distinguished.

I also wanted them to tell me how we could make improvements—large and small—by working together.

While my knowledge of TU, its people, and its 150-year history is growing, I am keenly aware that I have much more to understand and I look forward to that journey.

But with each day I feel that I am developing a sense of our university, our history, and our culture.

To begin, I want thank Ms. Elemo and the editors and staff at The Towerlight for continuing to amplify all voices on our campus, especially those who are often marginalized.

This forum helps ensure everyone’s experiences, beliefs, and attitudes about racism, diversity, and inclusion can be heard, respected, and responded to by our university administration and community.

Towson University has been at the center of discussions and actions regarding social justice since its founding in 1866 as Maryland’s first school for teacher preparation.

As president I am proud to be part of this important legacy.

Over the past two months, I have reflected on what I have learned in my new role, as well as what I have tried to share with those who have met me.

I have worked hard to make clear – in my video message to campus, at all the town halls I have held, during my meetings with student organizations and groups, talking with our Board of Visitors and Alumni Board, counseling with faculty and staff – that I am committed to leading our university’s efforts to achieve a most diverse and inclusive classroom and campus.

My commitment is based upon my uncompromising belief that a diverse and inclusive campus is a prerequisite for achieving a high quality university education.

Inclusion is about race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and able-ness. 

Our pursuit of inclusion must be relentless—and it is everyone’s responsibility. The impact of a diverse and inclusive classroom and campus extends beyond the import of social justice upon which our university was founded. 

A diverse and inclusive classroom and campus provides that our graduates have learned to both thrive and support others to thrive in an environment inclusive of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and able-ness.

In a global economy increasingly characterized by multiculturalism, Towson University graduates who thrive and support others to thrive in a diverse and inclusive environment will leave our campus better prepared, and thus advantaged, for the world of work and graduate education.   

Ms. Elemo, you ask me in your open letter to recognize that “..while people of varying cultural and racial backgrounds are present. We are largely underrepresented and unspoken for.”

You are not the only person who has shared this belief with me.

I am committed to amplifying those voices and their impact.

Ms. Elemo, you ask me in your open letter to recognize that “… ending racism on this campus, and in the world should not fall solely on people of color … The administration should be working just as hard, if not twice as hard as we are.”

You are not the only person who has shared this belief with me.

Additionally, there are important aspects of racism and issues that singularly and powerfully affect the black community in our nation and on our campus. 

I am committed to leading our university to be openly anti-racist and to end other forms of intolerance, antagonism, prejudice, and discrimination aimed at and affecting individuals due to their race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and able-ness.

Next month, on April 21, I will deliver my first Spring Address to campus in Stephens Hall at 4pm.

I will share my observations of my first 90 days on campus—specifically, the common themes I’ve heard in my conversations, meetings and town halls with faculty, staff and students.

Diversity and inclusion will be prominent in my remarks and will be prominent in my priorities moving forward.

Again, I want thank Ms. Elemo and The Towerlight editors and staff for continuing to amplify all voices on our campus.

I hope you all share in my firm belief that there is work before us, there’s much to be proud of, and there are great things ahead for Towson University.

Respectfully,

Kim Schatzel

President

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