Campus diversity initiatives update and message from student leaders

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dear Members of the Appalachian Community:

Last semester I requested the Chancellor’s Commission on Diversity develop specific, actionable plans to recruit - and retain - students, faculty and staff of color to our campus. I am pleased to inform you the commission is finalizing new recommendations that add to earlier recommended action steps. There has been much good work done and I commend the commission for its efforts.

Chief Diversity Officer Bindu Jayne, who will share a more detailed communication regarding specific action steps, will lead a working group of students, faculty and staff charged with implementation. In addition, the group will be responsible for real-time development of additional actions as needed, including the development of a plan to facilitate genuine and meaningful dialogue about race on our campus. As I shared in December, discussions about race and equality are not always easy ones for a community to have, but I am confident this community truly wants to have these discussions in open and honest ways. This is hard work, and I know we as a community are willing to do it.

In support of Student Government Association President Carson Rich and Graduate Student Association Senate President Mason Calhoun’s efforts to promote civil discourse, I am sharing the message below on their behalf. While written to their fellow students, it is my hope that each member of our community seriously considers their message and commits to being part of navigating what will sometimes be a difficult path. This is our time to move in unity toward a more just and equitable community.


/s/ Sheri N. Everts

Sheri N. Everts

Message to students from Carson Rich and Mason Calhoun

Dear Fellow Mountaineers:

Civil discourse is key to the academic endeavor and ensuring a climate where freedom of expression for all students can occur within a community of respect, concern and inclusion. In a message to our community in December, Chancellor Everts stated, “I challenge all of us today to affirm that we will contribute to a community of respect and concern, and actively reject complicity in hurtful language or actions, whether they take place in anonymous settings online or overt settings in interpersonal situations. I know we will all rise to this challenge.” The hurtful language and actions Chancellor Everts references are not worthy of Appalachian or its students. They are wrong and unacceptable.

As a university campus, our community navigates many of the same public conversations that occur in society at large. In recent months, social media postings have included hateful speech, particularly related to race, that is not reflective of Appalachian’s core value of respect. To those who have contributed to these rude and ignorant posts on YikYak, and even hurtful conversation in person, know it is hurting others greatly and has to stop. These kinds of remarks can be roadblocks to meaningful conversation and detrimental to members of our community.

As we head into the end of this semester, it is important to resist impulsivity. We must reflect on how our statements might affect fellow community members, and refuse to allow anonymity to cloud our judgment and ability to empathize. We urge every member of our student body to commit to civil discourse and consider how hateful and hurtful remarks may affect their fellow students. We need to make sure we treat one another in a manner that ensures a community based in respect and inclusivity. We must take a stance on this as a student body as well as approach the future of this university with love, forgiveness and acceptance of all.

/s/ Carson Rich

Carson Rich
Student Government Association President

/s/ Mason Calhoun

Mason Calhoun
Graduate Student Association Senate President