Friday, October 8, 2010

So Proud of CWRU

The first week in October, during Homecoming Weekend, CWRU dedicated the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center inside Thwing, the student center on campus. It was so great to hear CWRU President, Barbara Snyder, speak at the event (see video below), and reiterate the support she gave in her official statement:

Every single member of our community is important, and each of us should strive to ensure our actions convey that message. Tolerance and respect are essential to our mission. We value the contributions of every student, staff and faculty member, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, political persuasion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Our classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, and other settings should be free of discrimination, to be sure, but that is not enough. We must recognize that we are fortunate to study and work in an environment where it is understood that our differences add to the richness of our learning. It is only from a wide array of experiences and insights that we together can achieve deeper appreciation and awareness of some of the greatest societal challenges of our time.

Back in the late 80s, one of the successes I was most proud of as a member of undergraduate student government (USG) was convincing the university administration to expand the non-discrimination policy to include on the basis of sexual orientation. We held a post-card drive: USG printed cards and made them available all over campus. Anyone on campus could sign the card (requesting the change) and drop it in campus mail to be delivered to the university President, Ag Pytte. This ploy got his attention, and a group of us were invited to meet with him to discuss the pros and cons. To us, as undergrads, the financial risk (that is, the risk the university could be sued), seemed negligible compared to the importance of being inclusive. He eventually agreed, and the University Board of Trustees approved a new non-discrimination policy. It has changed and improved in the last 20 years (I'll post it below the video); it's amazing to see CWRU truly embracing diversity and inclusiveness.

Non-Discrimination Policy Statement

Case Western Reserve University does not discriminate in recruitment, employment, or policy administration on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, color, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, or status as a disabled veteran or other protected veteran under U.S. federal law. In addition, the university expects all employees, students, vendors, and associates to comply with the policy of non-discrimination. The university intends to maintain an environment free of sexual harassment and will not tolerate any form of harassment of its employees, faculty, or students. Retaliation against persons raising concerns about discrimination, sexual harassment or harassment of any kind is prohibited and will constitute separate grounds for disciplinary action up to and including discharge or expulsion from the university.

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