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Dear students,

As educators and leaders of a diverse learning community, we are deeply concerned when racism, sexism, homophobia and incivility—whether in words, actions or posts of any kind—target individuals or groups. Such behavior violates our Community Principles: http://www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/comdev/principles.

For all members of Columbia University, harassment, mistreatment and hateful language based on race, gender, sexual orientation, affiliation or other identities are unacceptable and hurt every one of us. We all are committed to a campus environment which values and supports each individual in an atmosphere that is caring and respectful.

When a bias incident is reported, we move quickly to investigate the matter and ensure that all involved students are treated fairly and are supported throughout the process. This has been the main focus immediately following Sunday’s report, and we must honor and protect the wishes of victims. After an investigation by the New York Police Department, and in addition to any pending outside legal process, CC/SEAS students involved are also subject to a judicial process through the Dean’s Discipline process. For a fuller understanding of our Bias Response, please read the brochure: http://www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/sites/dsa/files/handbooks/BiasProtocolBrochure.pdf.

We ask that you respect the privacy of all individuals involved and allow us to investigate thoroughly and act according to our protocols and procedures. Speculation based on limited or inaccurate information reported in the press, or anonymous rumor, serves no one well and is detrimental to the wellbeing of those involved as well as to our community as a whole.  Senior administrators from Student Affairs and from the Athletics Program, with complete support of university leadership, are working together and treating this matter with the seriousness it deserves.

With respect to social media messages reportedly posted by some students, we share fully in the belief that offensive messages in any form are unacceptable and fall far beneath the standards of civility and mutual respect we expect of all our students, including student athletes who represent Columbia. We are addressing this matter aggressively with the individuals involved. We also believe that broad generalizations about any group are unfair and hurtful, and we unfortunately have seen that social media has too often become a forum for such offensive comments.

Every one of us is responsible to this community, and we ask that you affirm the values that call for us to treat each other with respect and dignity. Let us commit to using our freedom of expression to promote civil dialogue and to appreciate our greatest strength—our diversity. We understand the deep hurt, disappointment, and anger and are committed to supporting and collaborating with all of our students in addressing these things in our community and how we will move forward together. Now is the time for all of us to reach out to one another with compassion and understanding.

James J. Valentini,
Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education

Donald Goldfarb,
Interim Dean, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Peter J. Awn,
Dean, School of General Studies

M. Dianne Murphy,
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education