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President Barron: No Place For Hate At Penn State

Penn State President Eric Barron released a letter Tuesday afternoon to the Penn State community declaring “there is no place for hate at Penn State.” Barron references issues of race, ethnicity, religion, intolerance, hate, and discrimination in the United States and went on to say how he wants Penn State to be an “open and welcoming environment” for all members of the community wherein this type of behavior isn’t tolerated.

Barron noted in his letter that diversity is key to Penn State’s functionality, but such differences have created issues over the last year both at the university and nationally, both of which have impacted the students, faculty, and staff.

“There is no place for hate, overt or subtle, at Penn State – such actions do not represent our mutually held values,” Barron said in the letter.

Even as recent as Saturday, a student was arrested and charged with ethnic intimidation after following a student because of the color of his skin.

The letter isn’t just sparked by recent events, and Barron is looking to foster a campus environment where everyone is accepted. Last year, students held die-ins and, at the second, Barron posed for a controversial photo in the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose, showing his support for the students. Just days after that, the president of Sigma Lambda Beta reported he was the victim of a hate crime, and just this semester a student visitor reported that he was a victim of an anti-gay assault.Additionally, there have been 27 sexual assaults or possible sexual assaults reported just this semester.

“Any violence that causes physical or emotional harm to any individual harms our entire community, too,” Barron said in the letter. “It takes the commitment of all Penn Staters to maintain an open and caring environment.”

Barron’s letter is timely, but despite the reminder from the university president, he concludes by noting that he is continually impressed by Penn Staters and their leadership, and surely hopes to invoke some of that into combat the issues of hate.

He concluded the letter by reminding members of the community the resources available to them, like the Office of Ethics and Compliance hotline and anonymous online reporting.

You can read the full text of President Barron’s letter below:

Dear Penn State Community,

As the fall semester comes to a close, we in this country find ourselves in the midst of an ongoing national conversation focused on important issues of race, ethnicity, religion, intolerance, hate and discrimination. These are critical issues that touch all of our lives, as Penn Staters and as Americans or as visitors to the U.S. I wish to take a few moments now to underscore Penn State’s steadfast commitment to maintaining an open and welcoming environment for students, faculty and staff from all walks of life, and to remind you of available resources and support.

Last year, more than 14,600 of you shared thoughts about the values you feel are at the core of our community. Your feedback both during the survey and in subsequent town hall meetings forms the foundation of the Penn State Values. Though no society is free of discrimination, hate speech or intimidation, you have spoken clearly about the high value you place on community, respect, integrity and responsibility, as well as excellence and discovery. At the center of all of these is mutual respect for one another.

Our diversity as a University community is a key strength. It is at the core of what makes Penn State great. We are here to learn from and about one another; our diversity is critical to the education of our students, broadening their exposure to people from very different perspectives, economic and racial backgrounds, and international viewpoints. Indeed, it is our obligation as a great university to build bridges of understanding and to help the world to recognize and celebrate the intrinsic value of every person.

There is no place for hate, overt or subtle, at Penn State – such actions do not represent our mutually held values. Any violence that causes physical or emotional harm to any individual harms our entire community, too. It takes the commitment of all Penn Staters to maintain an open and caring environment.

It is in that spirit that I remind you of the following resources:

— Students, faculty, staff and other members of the community should report crime to police by calling 911 or by using the online crime reporting form at http://www.police.psu.edu/psu-police/report-crime.cfm.

— To anonymously report an act of hate or intolerance, any member of the community can visit Penn State’s Report Bias website, at http://equity.psu.edu/reportbias.

— Those who feel they are threatened also can contact Penn State’s LGBTQA Student Resource Center; the Office of Student Conduct; the Multicultural Resource Center or the Affirmative Action Office. Resources also are available through Counseling and Psychological Services for those who wish to talk.

— Finally, those who feel they’ve witnessed or experienced an episode of intimidation, discrimination or other ethical violation in the workplace or classroom can file an anonymous report with the Office of Ethics and Compliance hotline, either online or by phone at 800-560-1637.

No community is immune from these issues. Yet I continue to be impressed on a daily basis at the leadership shown by our students, faculty and staff who are committed to bettering society.

Sincerely,

Eric Barron
President, Penn State

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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