Penn State released a statement Tuesday addressing a recent increase in acts of discrimination on campus and in the State College community. The open letter of sorts is signed by President Eric Barron, Provost Nick Jones, Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, and Vice President for Educational Equity Marcus Whitehurst.
“We do not support nor do we condone racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, homophobic or other discriminatory messages or actions. Nor will we allow our University community to become a place where offensive words and behaviors take root,” the statement reads.
The statement references an incident last week where a Menorah was stolen from Chabad Jewish Center and was placed, in damaged condition, in front of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house, as well as reports of racial slurs, acts of white supremacy, and other acts of prejudice.
Administrators insist the university will not tolerate acts “by any individual or group that aims to incite fear or create divisiveness,” and will continue efforts to ensure that Penn State is an inclusive community for students and staff from all walks of life.
You can read the full statement below:
The current tenor nationally and recurrent displays of discrimination, bias and sometimes violence that permeate news headlines have resulted in trying times not only for our country, but also for those of us who live, study and work on college campuses. Though Penn State strives to create a diverse and inclusive environment for all, we – like any institution of higher education – are not immune to the efforts of those who bring hate and prejudice to our community.
We are aware that hate — whether it’s close to home or far away — affects everyone in our community in different ways. Like many of you, we are personally and deeply offended by the abhorrent displays of vitriol and prejudice. The statements and actions made by some individuals are hurtful, repugnant and certainly not in line with Penn State’s values and our community’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.
In the last few weeks alone, actions such as stealing and damaging a Jewish Menorah, reports of racial slurs, and activity by white supremacy groups have occurred on or near our campuses. A commercial establishment in State College earlier this semester promoted a “midget wrestling” event that naturally caused considerable offense to some, even if that was not the intent.
We condemn these actions and will hold students and others involved accountable where we can, including restitution for damage. We do not support nor do we condone racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, homophobic or other discriminatory messages or actions. Nor will we allow our University community to become a place where offensive words and behaviors take root. We will continue to condemn hate-filled speech and action by any individual or group that aims to incite fear or create divisiveness.
The University’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion means that we strive to nurture a welcoming environment for our entire community. Penn State has long been a leader in promoting rich experiences and a welcoming and inclusive climate for students, faculty and staff from all walks of life. We will continue to focus on these meaningful efforts as we work to remove barriers to learning and discovery.
— Eric J. Barron, President
— Nicholas Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost
— Damon Sims, Vice President Student Affairs
— Marcus Whitehurst, Vice Provost for Educational Equity