UPDATE – November 20,2015:
Dear Towson Students, Faculty, and Staff:
We, in the higher education community, have a great responsibility to exemplify the progress and change we wish to see in our world. This week Towson University took another step to continue our work toward creating an inclusive and welcoming campus.
On Wednesday, November 18th, student blackouts took place at campuses across the country to protest racial injustice. At 3:20 p.m. a group of passionate Towson students peacefully marched into the President’s Office to share with me their concerns and presented a list of requests they wished to see resolved. We immediately initiated a constructive dialogue with the students. Over the next several hours with the assistance of available members of my leadership team including Center for Student Diversity staff, we began discussing and reworking a document that laid out the university’s commitments to achieve a number of mutual objectives that were of concern to the students and to the university.
At approximately 12:45 a.m. the resulting final document was a list of commitments that are completely aligned with Towson’s University’s core values and includes many issues that we are actively addressing within our Strategic Diversity Goals. We feel confident that we can move forward with the list of commitments and we will continue the dialogue with our student leaders on this and other issues at the November 30th Diversity Work Session.
I’m extraordinarily proud of our students who want to make this a better place for all of us. Universities should be a forum where students not only find their voices, but use them to express their opinions and seek solutions to problems.
Let us all embrace our roles as educators, leaders and participants in this effort. We appreciate that our efforts thus far have been recognized, and our work must continue. In order to achieve sustained success and significant progress to resolve the challenges we face, we must continue to listen to multiple perspectives, be thoughtful and thorough in our approach, and then act swiftly to address the concerns of our community. I hope you all will join me in being part of a collaborative approach to address the complex issues facing us today.
Interim Towson University President
On Thursday, November 19, the university released the following statement. It was made public the morning after Interim President Timothy Chandler personally met and worked with students for nearly 10 hours. He and the students discussed and reworked a document that laid out the university’s commitment to achieve a number of objectives that were of mutual concern to the students and the university. This document, which Dr. Chandler signed, is completely aligned with Towson’s core values. Many of the items on the list are issues that Towson University has already been addressing.
We are proud of our students, who brought their concerns to the Towson University administration. We applaud them for their conviction and their passion. Last evening’s exchange of ideas was a mutual learning experience that resulted in a shared vision and a feasible course of action. In the words of the students themselves, the opportunity for discourse was as important as their list of concerns. We feel confident that we can move forward with the list of commitments that Interim President Chandler signed last night, and we look forward to continued dialogue to make our campus a welcoming and productive environment for every student.
“This is what universities are supposed to do,” Dr. Chandler said. “We are supposed to help students express their opinions and find solutions to problems. I’m extraordinarily proud of this group of students, who want to make this a better place, not just for themselves, but for all of us.”
On Monday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. in the University Union’s Potomac Lounge, members of the university administration and TU student leaders will come together for a work session to discuss current actions and exchange ideas on what additional steps can be taken to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus environment. The results of this work session will be shared with the greater campus community in a town hall-like public forum at a later date.