Dear VPA Community,
By now I’m sure you have all read or heard about the disturbing conduct at Theta Tau, a professional fraternity chapter here at Syracuse University. I am shocked and appalled by the deplorable actions and vile language used, which have absolutely no place at our University. The conduct is deeply harmful and contrary to the standards we expect of our students.
What happened at Theta Tau serves as a reminder that we will address violations of codes of conduct with swift and appropriate consequences, and that we must be diligent in our commitment to foster a community where all our students feel welcome and are treated with dignity and respect. This is both a stopping point and a turning point. We must stop to listen so that we can hear, understand, and respond. And we must use this as a turning point to make tangible changes in how we galvanize our campus community to be inclusive and welcoming.
To that end, and in addition to the actions the University is taking, I will be meeting with the college’s academic and administrative leadership on Monday, April 23, to determine how to best bring together College of Visual and Performing Arts students, faculty, and staff to engage in honest and meaningful dialogue. Among the topics we will explore:
- Conducting implicit bias trainings for faculty and staff
- Rewriting VPA’s mission and vision statements to include expectations of respectful conduct
- Creating a VPA Diversity Council comprised of students, faculty, and staff to provide a forum for hearing student, faculty, and staff concerns and to help monitor diversity activities in the college
- Re-examining college hiring and promotion processes with the express goal of hiring a more representative faculty and staff
As your dean, I have learned that students will not sit quietly on the sidelines of injustice. We must all share their passion and conviction to change things. This is inherent in VPA’s current vision statement:
The vision of the College of Visual and Performing Arts is founded upon the belief that art and scholarship can affect change.
In VPA, we also know that art and respectful dialogue inspire hope. Although we have work to do, I am confident that with your active participation, our college will thrive as an inclusive and supportive learning community.
Michael S. Tick
Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts