Dear Members of the Lehigh Black Student Union,
We have heard your call for change and for action to eliminate racist behaviors at Lehigh. Thank you for taking a lead role and serving as a prominent voice in what is and will be a University-defining effort. Lehigh’s Board of Trustees and leadership are committed to working together toward that end. While we are contacting you directly, we will also be sharing this message broadly through Lehigh’s various forms of communication.
We have participated in and viewed the town hall, read and discussed the June 4 LehighBSU Instagram post, and have received open letters from faculty, students and alumni; the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Graduate Student Senate; the Black and Latinx Network for Community and Equity; and many email and social media messages. These have been the basis of intensive discussion by the Board of Trustees and University leaders over the last week and will be the subject of further discussion among the entire Lehigh community moving forward.
The racist actions and attitudes experienced by students and others in our community are unacceptable to us. Despite our past efforts and actions, we have much more to do to address such behavior. We pledge to do more and to do better. The Trustees will match the funds raised by “Lehigh Students for Black Lives Matter” and will direct funds to Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc. While our drive to make Lehigh an antiracist University will require an evolving series of actions over time, initially we will take the following steps:
- An outside, independent review of the Lehigh University Police Department’s policies and operating procedures has begun. Additionally, we were notified Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Education will initiate a separate review of the University’s compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). We welcome this action and any recommendations for improvement.
- A comprehensive review of all University policies and procedures to ensure they are antiracist and promote equity will begin shortly and will broadly engage the campus community.
- The Provost’s office will work with the faculty senate on updating curriculum and faculty training to promote understanding of topics including implicit biases, antiracist practices and microaggressions. Student leaders of cultural organizations will be included in these efforts.
- We will make public the demographic composition of Lehigh faculty and staff.
- We commit to carefully consider all the issues you have raised.
We look forward to discussing further your ideas about how we can work together to take actions to make Lehigh a better, safer, and more inclusive University. President Simon will reach out to you to coordinate our meeting in the very near future.
Board of Trustees