The University of Rhode Island -- Think Big We Do
TO: URI Campus Community
FROM: David M. Dooley
DATE: February 23, 2011
SUBJECT: Community - Civility and Respect

The University of Rhode Island is a community of discovery and learning composed of individuals who want to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of their families, friends and the broader communities in which we all live.

Each member of the URI community brings the unique gift of their identity - with all of our similarities and all of our differences. Compellingly, it is our difference - our uniqueness - that enhances the magic of knowledge creation and learning. This is why one of the URI cornerstones is diversity and inclusion. That cornerstone is supported by the values of civility and respect.

During the last several weeks there are members of our community who have been thinking and acting small. They have shouted homophobic taunts from cars to individuals on sidewalks and written hateful words on white boards; drawn a swastika on the forehead of a poster of Dr. Martin Luther King; vandalized a mezuzah which contains a scroll of Hebrew scripture; and written in permanent marker hateful statements targeted toward URI community members of Latin descent.

These actions fly in the face of our community values. While each of these actions may appear to some as a relatively minor infringement of our values, they wound members of our community and undermine our efforts to build a community where every member is welcomed and supported. Consequently, these kinds of actions are not acceptable at URI.

I ask each of you to step up and speak out when you see acts of that are hurtful and antithetical to our commitment to build community. If you see something, say something. We are a community that values free speech and academic freedom. But we also value all the members of our community. Each member is entitled to be welcomed, to stand in dignity, and to have the opportunity to fulfill his or her dreams by contributing to the greater community - in other words, by Thinking Big.

Please feel free to contact Associate Vice President Kathryn Friedman from the Office of Community, Equity and Diversity for support around all positive activity that will further foster a just and inclusive URI Community. If you observe any inappropriate behavior, please report it to the URI Bias Response Team by going to the Team website.

We all have a personal responsibility toward the collective goal of civility and respect.

Office of the President
Green Hall, 35 Campus Avenue, Kingston, R.I. 02881

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