September 29, 2014
In recent days, the University has become aware of reports of flyers and several independent websites on which anonymous, unsupported and deeply troubling allegations have been made against members of our community. In each case, the University has contacted the platform operators of those sites and asked them to remove this content.
Anonymous accusations that are not grounded in fact run counter to the values of this University, which is committed to sustaining an academic community in which all members can participate freely and fully. We are concerned because the flyers and websites undermine – rather than advance – the free and rigorous exchange of ideas, which is a principle that lies at the core of who we are as an institution. Some of these anonymous accusations are also inciting, defamatory and divorced from the accountability and good faith that are compelled by our commitment to open discourse.
In order to confront challenging, complex and even unsettling issues in a productive way, we ask each of you to work with us through discussion and thoughtful engagement to ensure all members of our community are able to explore new ideas and learn from each other. We recognize that owning and defending one’s ideas can be difficult, but here at the University of Chicago, it is something we take pride in doing well.
The University is committed to making a number of individuals and resources available to all members of our community, and particularly to our students, to support a campus environment free of harassment and discrimination. This includes resources such as the unified Unlawful Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy and the new University-wide Disciplinary Committee, as well as the appointment of an Associate Dean of Students in the University for Disciplinary Affairs. The convening of the committee chaired by Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law, earlier this summer by President Zimmer is another important example of the University’s tradition to reassert and foster its fundamental values.
Students can also work with faculty and staff, including the Dean-on-Call, the Bias Response Team and their area Dean of Students, to find ways to confront difficult issues through open discourse. Students seeking confidential resources for discussing their concerns about these and other topics can contact Student Counseling or the Sexual Assault Dean-on-Call.
In the coming weeks, there will be planned and spontaneous conversations about sexual misconduct, unlawful discrimination, open discourse, and free expression. We invite and encourage you to take advantage of these resources and opportunities to strive for honest engagement with issues in the best intellectual tradition of the University.
Karen Warren Coleman
Vice President of Campus Life and Student Services
Dean of Students in the University