April 11, 2017
A letter from Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Edghill-Walden
Dear NIU Community,
On the evening of April 9, the Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion received a bias incident report regarding a disturbing video that shows an individual using racist language that occurred at an event off-campus in front of the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) house. While we quickly identified that the individual is not an NIU student or alumnus, NIU leadership knows that this disturbing video has caused harm in our community and directly goes against our core values of diversity, equity and inclusion. Continue reading
That same evening, I tweeted that NIU leadership is aware and has opened a student conduct investigation. In the past 48 hours, Student Affairs and Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leaders have met to discuss next steps beyond an investigation. We have also met with TKE student leadership and communicated with their national office and expressed our concern about this video, and we have reached out to black student leaders.
As with any investigation if student policies have been violated the university will take appropriate actions.
Additionally, we are taking the following steps to not only address this incident, but also proactively engage our community in a thoughtful process that helps us live out our core values of diversity, equity and inclusion:
- Black student leadership will meet with TKE student leadership to discuss the impact of racism on our entire community no later than April 17, 2017.
- All TKE student members will attend NIU Conversations on Diversity+Equity (CODE) Workshops by May 1, 2017.
- The Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will partner with Student Involvement and Leadership Development to train all Student Association recognized student organization officers along with advisors by October 1, 2017.
We realize the value and importance of ensuring that all community members participate in cultural competency training and open dialogue. In our three-year diversity and inclusion plan we have recommended a university-wide comprehensive program for cultural competency training and ensuring that all students are required to take a human diversity class before they graduate from NIU. To date we have educated 1,027 faculty, staff and students. We know we have many more people to train and that is why we have created the NIU Conversations on Diversity+Equity (CODE) Workshops as well as the bias reporting form.
Incidents like this reinforce the need to continue our work to create a safe, inclusive culture and climate. We have spent the past two years implementing programs and initiatives that help to create a more inclusive and equity-minded culture where all members feel like they belong. We acknowledge that there is more to be done but we are committed to working towards being more inclusive and equitable and a place where we hold each other accountable to the principles of the Northern Pact: being just, open, caring, purposeful, celebrative and disciplined. We are committed to encouraging and providing opportunities for meaningful dialogue that can transform our community and university culture, strengthen our community’s expectations for respect and demonstrate how we can live out our core values.
Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Diversity
NIU strives to create an environment that celebrates diversity in order to prepare students to join a global workforce as well as to enrich the lives of all who live, study and work here. The Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is focused on helping NIU's diverse student population succeed in their educational goals, find supportive communities and graduate with the skills and experience needed to coexist with people from all backgrounds.
Here you can learn about the goals of our office, explore NIU's many diverse programs and initiatives, find your community and learn what resources are available to you. We are here to help you, so feel free to reach out with questions or comments.
NIU Statement on Freedom of Expression
Northern Illinois University is committed to freedom of expression, ensuring that all members of the university community have the broad latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn. NIU values all individuals and their rights, and encourages meaningful dialogue and a respectful exchange of ideas and opinions so that the voices of every student, faculty, staff and visitor to our campus can be acknowledged.
When members of the university community or the public choose to express their thoughts and opinions – be that through words, peaceful actions or visuals – all should expect some form of opposing views. The role of university administration is not to weigh in on the varying perspectives, but rather to foster an environment in which differences can be explored, ideas challenged and society advanced. These points and counterpoints might be contrary to public opinion and NIU’s values of civility, collegiality, diversity and inclusiveness, but our First Amendment protects virtually all speech, no matter how unorthodox, offensive or distasteful.
Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Office of the Provost
Altgeld Hall 215
Equity in Action
Learn more about how our diversity, equity and inclusion goals are being put into action.