Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services: Statement on diversity and inclusion

April 25, 2013

The following statement was issued by Karen Warren Coleman, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services

One of our greatest strengths as a university is the diversity of experience and perspectives of our students and scholars. We value people for their contributions and reject inequities based on class, race, gender identity, religion, nationality, disability, status, and other aspects of identity. We will not have a truly free and open exchange of ideas if members of our community feel silenced or not afforded the opportunity to participate fully in the dialogue.

We cannot assume these strengths or values are self-evident. They require active discussion and attention. There have been several troubling events this year, including most recently an anonymous Facebook page, which have upset and offended many members of our community. Some students have conveyed to me that they do not feel that our campus community welcomes diversity and that a “trust deficit” has resulted between them and the campus that they call home. I want all students to know that the University and Campus and Student Life are deeply committed to creating an inclusive learning environment in which everyone is valued and able to contribute. We have more work to do to realize this commitment, as I noted in a statement last week.

In addition to the many existing programs and resources across campus, today I am announcing a series of tangible next steps to provide significant, ongoing opportunities for engagement, education, dialogue, and support for diversity across our community. These activities, detailed below, include events, improvements to online resources, and a new program to be launched in May that will create awareness and appreciation of the importance of diversity.

A genuine exchange of ideas can be sharp and vigorous. We will not always agree, and the dialogue itself can be difficult. But we can and must put that exchange in a context that welcomes each of you, and helps you to thrive as a student and as a person. We can do a better job of that, and together with my staff and colleagues around the University, I pledge my efforts and the resources of my office in support of that mission.

If you would like to be involved in these efforts, please contact me at

Featured events
New featured events include guest speaker Tim Wise, who will address, “Affirmative Action, A Post-Racial Society, and White Privilege” on May 6 at Mandel Hall. After Tim Wise’s keynote speech there will be facilitated small group discussions at various locations in the Reynolds Club. On the same day, Campus and Student Life will also host a session with Tim Wise exclusively for staff members.

More upcoming events can be found at:

Campus awareness programming
In early May I will be announcing a new campus-wide program to bring more visibility to diversity-related topics and provide opportunities to challenge our assumptions about the role of race, gender, sexuality, and other aspects of identity in our intellectual community.

Diversity: Engage-Learn-Transform Fund created
I am establishing a new fund to help support initiatives, programs, and events across campus that will help to bring together diverse groups and community members. This fund will be open to all UChicago students, faculty, and staff. More information will be available later this week on the Campus and Student Life website.

Advisory council
A new Vice President's Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion will be formed immediately to engage students on issues of diversity and the student experience.

Promoting diversity resources
The Diversity and Inclusion pages of the Campus and Student Life website will expand to more fully reflect diversity on campus, better capture the ways in which we celebrate that diversity, and clearly organize the support and resources available.

Following through
This summer, I will form a committee that will assess the success of our efforts this spring and recommend long-term, ongoing opportunities for our campus.