On Wednesday, November 16, President Kroger responded formally to the demands of the student group, Reedies Against Racism. While discussion of the demands are fluid, we want to share with you his formal response and his follow up email to the community yesterday.
Dear Reed students, faculty, and staff,
I write to you with an update regarding recent events on campus. Over the last week, I have received a wide range of responses to my communications. I appreciate hearing from all of you. I am learning at each stage how better to meet our responsibilities to every person in our campus community and, in particular, to historically marginalized populations.
Many of you know that students began occupying the admission office on Monday, November 14. These students have made several demands that focus on their safety, the college’s support for them, and their strong desire for Reed to establish itself as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. I met with the students in the admission office last night and provided a written response (attached here for your information) to the demands articulated on November 14. Last night, the students told me that they intend to continue occupying until we concede to these demands. The conversations related to the students’ demands are fluid and I will continue to update the community as these discussions evolve.
In recent communications to parents and family members, I inadvertently conflated our students’ peaceful protests with descriptions of sinister actions, including hateful graffiti and web posts. I apologize for the linkage and the offense this caused. Additionally, I indicated that I did not see evidence that physical violence is in any way imminent. However, in an important way this misses the point; when our students feel unsafe they need to know that we are listening and that we are serious about doing everything we can to create an educational and social environment that is comprehensively and expansively safe, welcoming, supportive, and inclusive. I will make sure parents and family members receive this message.
The burdens of fear and uncertainty in our society fall disproportionately on vulnerable and marginalized populations. I want to acknowledge that many of our community members who are people of color, LGBTQ, Muslim, immigrants, and women experience fear and uncertainty about their safety and inclusion in our broader community due to both on-campus hate speech and recent national events.
I am committed to working with Reed staff and faculty to ensure that all students feel safe and respected at Reed.
John R. Kroger
The letter enclosed, addressed to Reedies Against Racism:
November 16, 2016
Dear Reedies Against Racism,
I want you to know that I respect your passion and urgency for change. While we have disagreements over tactics and while I cannot promise quick outcomes for your ideas for change, I am committed to hearing you and in joining you in making Reed the safe and productive place we all seek. Providing students the best possible liberal arts education in a safe environment remains our top priority. I recognize that recent very public and hostile events have left many community members feeling at risk. We remain vigilant in assessing risks to community members and will continue to address all individual concerns.
Though the college has made great strides in becoming more diverse and inclusive, we clearly have a lot of work to do. I know many are frustrated by the pace of change, but I see sustained engagement by the entire campus community in both responding to critique and in building capacity for the free and open exchange of ideas.
Below I have outlined my response to the demands you recently posted.
Finally, I respectfully request that you discontinue or relocate your protest from the admission office. It is not fair to our staff to prevent them from doing their important work with prospective students and their families. We must engage with inclusive governance practices to make changes and allow the educational program and the business of the college to move forward.
I have unwavering confidence in our students, faculty, and staff to work together through this difficult time.
John R. Kroger