March 8, 2017
Dear UT Community,
Every student, faculty member and staff member who sets foot on our campus has the right to learn, teach and work without fear.
On February 22, we held a Town Hall because there are members of our community who do not feel welcome on the Forty Acres — because of hate and discrimination — and that is unacceptable at The University of Texas.
The Town Hall shed light on the disturbing experiences of our students — experiences that caused fear and grave concerns. There were strong criticisms and genuine expressions of frustration and worry. The passion, courage and heart of our students were reflected in their words.
Since I left that meeting at the Student Activity Center nearly two weeks ago, I have been thinking about those words. I have been thinking about you. And I know many others at UT have been thinking about what they heard, sometimes for the first time, and wondering what we must do as a university dedicated to transforming lives for the benefit of society.
I’m writing to you now to announce the implementation and enforcement of a new Hate and Bias Incident Policy.
The Hate and Bias Incident Policy establishes that actions conducted with discriminatory and hateful intent on our campus will be punished rapidly and with greater consequences than in the past. It clearly defines the three primary actions that can result in a hate or bias incident charge — threatened or actual violent conduct, harassment, and incitement to imminent violations of the law. We will not tolerate threatening acts at UT.
When I delivered my first state-of-the-university address in 2015, I emphasized that excellence and diversity are mutually reinforcing concepts. Progress has been made, but more is needed.
So, in the coming weeks, my administration will release our Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, which addresses diversity and inclusion in every aspect of university life. In it, we will outline clear strategies and procedures to ensure that a wide range of our processes — including admissions, student life and faculty recruitment — work to foster the diversity and inclusion that are essential to UT’s mission.
I hope you will continue to email and tweet me to share your voices and stories so that we can make The University of Texas experience better for everyone.
Gregory L. Fenves