Diversity, Inclusion, and the University of Missouri

November 12, 2015

November 12, 2015

Dear Seattle University Community,

In recent weeks, the University of Missouri, Yale University and the University of Louisville have been propelled into the national spotlight amidst allegations of racism and bias, prompting advocacy and activism on each campus. The hatred and level of vitriol on display has shocked and saddened individuals and communities throughout the nation and across the world, including those of us here at Seattle University. I know I speak for our larger Redhawk family in stating our thoughts and prayers are with each of these communities as they begin the process of healing and reconciliation, and work to identify remedies and solutions to the challenges in front of them.

I am postponing the previously scheduled president’s forum this afternoon and encourage all who can to join members of SU’s Black Student Union in support of the event they are holding, SU in Solidarity with Black Mizzou, at 12:30 p.m. in front of the Lemieux Library. More details can be found here.

Seattle University is not immune to the serious and often times divisive issues facing our peers. Three weeks ago, Sue Rankin shared with our community the results of our campus climate study. We learned that significant numbers of our students, faculty and staff experience exclusion, microaggressions and differential treatment. We know we need to develop interpersonal and structural strategies to improve the climate. In the next few weeks, the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence will prepare its final report, outlining and prioritizing these strategies. Several opportunities are available for sharing responses to the climate study and recommending how the university should move forward. Two sessions already have been held and four more are scheduled as follows:


  • Friday, Nov. 13, noon, Hunthausen 100
  • Monday, Nov. 16, 4 p.m., Bannan 201
  • Wednesday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., Casey 200
  • Thursday, Nov. 19, 12:30 p.m., Bannan 202


Please join these discussions or invite the task force to join events and meetings that you already have planned. It is critical that the results of the climate study, coupled with what students, staff and faculty have shared with the task force about their experiences, inform tangible steps forward for our community. 

In addition to the discussions described above, the Division of Student Development is hosting a series of dialogues related to recent accounts of racism, bias and activism at the University of Missouri, Yale University and the University of Louisville. For each of the dates and times offered, three different locations will be available. These spaces, which are intended to support open and constructive dialogue, will take place:

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 12:15-1:15 p.m., OMA Pavilion, ISC Lounge and Redhawk Resource Hub 

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 12:15-1:15 p.m., OMA Pavilion, ISC Lounge and Redhawk Resource Hub

Moral Mondays at SU also provides an ongoing opportunity for dialogue on these issues. I encourage you to learn more about its work. As Sybrina Fulton said during her visit to campus last month, it is important to respect one another in order to see one another and work for change.

As a university in the Jesuit Catholic tradition, we have a responsibility to foster dialogue and lead change that will help ensure a just and humane world. We have a responsibility to bring about positive and meaningful change both on campus and in our larger community. We are committed to the free and open exchange of ideas and as a community must engage thoughtfully in the issues and challenges before us as we fulfill our commitment to making a difference in the world in which we live. 

Seattle University will continue to strive to be more inclusive, and as President I am committed to working alongside each of you to create a campus culture that embodies, empathy, respect, justice and equity where all voices and experiences are welcomed. 


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.