A Welcoming Culture of Inclusion
November 18, 2015
Dear Member of the Drexel Community,
Drexel's success depends on creating an environment in which people can champion, share and test their ideas in an atmosphere of respect and safety. Now is a particularly important time to confirm our unwavering commitment to inclusiveness, in light of last week's protests by students nationwide to call attention to what they see as a persistent undercurrent of racism on college campuses.
As individuals, we can use this moment to listen more carefully to each other, and to reaffirm that respectful and caring interaction goes hand in hand with intellectual inquiry and the defense of our principles. We should acknowledge that each person expresses a unique perspective that is true to their experience.
As an institution, Drexel must continue to reinforce our commitment to diversity with concrete actions that help all students, faculty and professional staff engage constructively with one another, especially around difficult or controversial topics. One valuable resource at Drexel is the Student Center for Inclusion and Culture (SCIC), where Tatiana Diaz and her staff foster education around social justice and identity and advocate for students from all cultural backgrounds.
This year the SCIC successfully launched the student Diversity Council and the Dragon Navigator program. The Diversity Council is a group of 15 volunteer students together with diverse student government representatives that advises SCIC and provides a forum for students to discuss the challenges they face. Dragon Navigators are volunteer faculty and professional staff members who work individually with new students from underrepresented minority groups and help connect them to Drexel resources that will support their success. Our goal is to extend that outreach to include first-generation college students and those from lower-income families.
Many other long-standing working groups on campus - including the Office of Faculty Development and Equity, the Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Committee and the Strategic Plan Global Impact Task Force - are focused on building an inclusive and effective campus environment. These teams, whose work predated recent events, are tackling issues ranging from increasing diversity in faculty hiring and student recruitment to fostering a global perspective that encompasses learning and research activities abroad and the experience of international students and faculty on our campuses.
Ultimately, your actions and your experiences will be the measure of whether Drexel is successful in creating a community that thrives on our differences and builds on our commonalities. Your voice is critical to guiding our ongoing efforts and making it clear where we fall short. We encourage you to participate in forums on campus where issues of inclusion and diversity are raised and, most important, to commit to engaging with each other and all of the Drexel community with respect and understanding.
John A. Fry
M. Brian Blake
Executive Vice President and Provost