As we gather for another academic year and welcome new members into our midst, we take part in the act of creating our community anew. Being together among difference is an essential part of our residential liberal arts community and it is an opportunity to affirm our community values of mutual respect, compassion, and inclusion.
We have received both Bias Education Reporting System (BERS) and Standards of Conduct reports about incidents that have contributed to our campus community feeling unsafe, particularly for Black and Jewish students. Thank you to those who alerted us to these incidents. Know that we are taking them very seriously and that both BERS processes and Standards of Conduct investigations are underway.
Both words and actions contribute to campus climate and our sense of belonging. Racism, antisemitism, homophobia, and other harms have no place in our community. The Bias Education Reporting System (BERS) and Standards of Conduct are in place so that we can address such incidents and take the necessary educational or, when warranted, disciplinary action.
Whatever the intentions when actions or words make members of our community feel unsafe or unwelcome, they do not align with our values as a college community. It is incumbent on every member of our community to learn not only how to avoid inflicting these harms but also to intervene actively when we witness them within our community.
We will continue to investigate such matters and meaningfully and fairly address any incident of racism, anti-Semitism, or discrimination. If you have experienced or witnessed such actions or words on our campus, please submit a BERS report here. If you would prefer to share your experience in person, please reach out directly to any of the following:
Creating a culture of compassion and belonging within a community is a challenge but a worthy one. Rhodes’ culture will only change for the better if each of us embodies the values we want to see: inclusion, antiracism, and a commitment to a healthy and meaningful campus experience where every member feels safe and valued. We are a community of neighbors, and the task at hand requires full participation. It will take all of us.
Carroll D. Stevens, JD