Community update on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resources

November 16, 2016

Dear Harvard College Students,

Over the past week, I have met and talked with many of you about your anxiety and uncertainty regarding what lies ahead for our country, as well for our Harvard College community. Within that context, I’d like to share an update with you about the work that is ongoing by the College, and members of the Office of Student Life (OSL) specifically, to foster understanding, community, and belonging on our campus.First, I have asked Loc Truong, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), to focus more intensively on supporting undocumented students in our community. Over the course of the past week, Loc has worked to identify and consolidate resources for undocumented students that can be accessed in a central location and to think through both short-term and long-term plans for the College’s support. In addition, Loc has been meeting with members of Act On A Dream, a student organization whose primary focus is to support undocumented students. The College’s Diversity Peer Educators also continue to be available to facilitate discussions on this topic and other related concerns in our community. Our goal with this work is to help our community commit to living out our values through a broad array of programs and initiatives that permanently embed diversity and inclusion into the fabric of Harvard College’s academic, residential, and work environments.

More broadly, I want you to know that acts of bias, harassment, and discrimination are not tolerated in our community. If you experience harassment, whether on campus or off, I strongly encourage you to utilize our full range of resources to report this behavior, including our residential staff, faculty, and administrators, as well as the Harvard University Police Department or local Cambridge authorities. The College also has a bias incident response that can be used to report such incidents.

Finally, I want to provide an update on the search for a new Assistant Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Over the past month, I have met with students, staff, and faculty representatives to learn about this important role in the College – to understand what personal qualities are needed, and what important competencies are required to lead our strategic efforts in this area. And two weeks ago, the College engaged a search consultant to assist us in hiring for this position. We will be bringing the search consultant to campus next month to meet with students, staff, and faculty stakeholders.

I am personally committed, as is the entire OSL team and our colleagues across the College and around our campus, to working together with you as we move forward in a spirit of compassion and unity.

Best regards,
Dean Katie O’Dair