President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

To: Reed Students, Staff, and Faculty

Subject: Statement on Racism

January 16, 2017

In 2009, Reed College adopted a diversity statement. As we commemorate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. today, I want to reconfirm our college's commitment to the important values of that statement, especially in light of events on campus this past fall. The Committee on Diversity, which includes faculty, students, and staff, is drafting a policy statement for consideration by the faculty and student senate committing the college to oppose racism in all its forms. In the meantime, I want to reaffirm my commitment to eliminating the inequities or barriers that might prevent any student from engaging fully in their Reed education.

As president of Reed College, I am committed to fostering an educational environment in which students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds can live, work, and learn as freely as possible from the debilitating effects of prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization. Racism in all its forms is antithetical to this commitment. I believe that members of the Reed community should be judged by the content of their character and the quality and creativity of their ideas, and not by the color of their skin. Accordingly, we must fight racism wherever and whenever it exists.

Acts of racism can occur with or without malicious intent, often as a result of unconscious bias. Regardless of intent, racist actions are harmful and dehumanizing and have adverse effects on our community. It is my hope that every member of the community will work to combat racism—both intentional and unintentional.

We must also recognize that the effects of racism are caused not only by the isolated actions of individuals, but also by the policies and practices of institutions. Institutional policies and practices deserve particular scrutiny.

I believe in our ability to work together as a community to strengthen and reform our programs, policies, pedagogy, and practices. I commit to helping the community identify and challenge discrimination or marginalization on the basis of all protected classes, including but not limited to race, color, national origin, immigration status, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, military status, veteran status, genetic information, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, status as a parent, and family relationship.

This past year, events around the country have reminded us that much work needs to be done to achieve racial equity and inclusion. I hope that all of us will dedicate ourselves to this goal.