Christopher T. Cory, Executive Director, Public Information, Pace University
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PACE UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES ON-CAMPUS CAMPAIGN
AGAINST HATE, PROMOTING RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING
“Not on My Watch” goal is to “encourage all of us to take responsibility,”
says President David A. Caputo
New York, NY and Pleasantville, NY, November 14, 2006 – In the wake of incidents in which two copies of the Qur’an were found in toilets and other racial and ethnic slurs were found on its campuses, Pace University today announced the start of a campaign to intensify its traditional acceptance of all groups on camps regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender orientation.
The incidents are under police investigation as hate crimes. President David A. Caputo, called the campaign “comprehensive and pro-active.”
The effort is known as “Not on My Watch.” Caputo said the name stresses the need for active cooperation from each member of the community, in actions ranging from understanding others to reporting incidents. “The goal is to encourage all of us to take responsibility,” he said.
In its first few weeks, “Not on My Watch” will comprise
• A three- hour panel discussion on sacred texts in all religions, including the Bible and the Qur’an, on November 20 in Lecture Hall North, One Pace Plaza, from 6 to 9 p.m. Taught by faculty members in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, the discussion will explore: What is a sacred text?; How does reading a sacred text differ from reading a secular text?; What – if any – responsibilities do we have to texts that other people hold sacred?; Is it possible to desecrate a sacred text?
• Two hour teach-ins on the Westchester campus in Pleasantville Tuesday, November 28, from 1 to 3 pm, and on the downtown New York City campus Thursday, November 30, from 3 to 5 pm. A faculty panel will discuss the meaning of hate crimes and the impact that they have on the community. In addition, the sessions will provide an open forum for dialogue about the recent incidents and an opportunity for questions about different cultures, groups, or practices. Information on Islam has been developed in consultation with the Conference on American Islamic Relations.
• “Campus of Difference,” a program developed and facilitated by the Anti Defamation League, offered over the next few weeks to Resident Assistants and student leaders.
• “Faculty tip sheets” developed by the University’s counseling department for faculty members willing to lead class discussions.
• Circulation of a resolution condemning hate and intolerance passed by the Student Government Association on the Downtown Manhattan campus.
• Distribution of a wallet card listing emergency phone numbers for the University Safety and Security Department, Deans for Students, Residential Life, Counseling center, Health care center, Affirmative Action Office and Ombuds Office. This responds to input from students who said they weren’t sure who to call.
• A training initiative that started at the top November 8 with a 90-minute cultural awareness workshop for the 30 members of the President’s Council (senior administrators and deans of students and of the University’s six schools). Conducted by the regional director of the US Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, it explored the roots of disrespect, its painful impact, and protocols for reinforcing tolerance and acceptance and dealing with specific incidents.
• Training sessions for first responders including the campus security staff, to update them on procedures for dealing with victims and collecting evidence.
Longer-term activities are under development as well. A team of faculty and staff members working on internationalizing the curriculum as an “Internationalization Laboratory” of the American Council on Education this week agreed to explore new curriculum units on religious, racial, ethnic, gender, class, and geo-political differences. The goal, as one member put it: “to lead our students to new levels of respect and understanding.”
Reinforcing norms. The effort was developed under the leadership of Lisa Miles JD, the University’s Affirmative Action Officer.
On campus surveys show acceptance of others is a widespread norm at Pace. When an internal survey in 2003-2004 asked students to say if they agreed or disagreed that “I feel I need to hide some characteristics of my racial and ethnic culture in order to fit in at Pace,” only 10 percent of both undergraduate and graduate students agreed.
More recently, the National Survey of Student Engagement found Pace students above national norms in reporting that they have serious conversations with fellow students of a different race or ethnicity.
In planning “Not on My Watch,” Miles has sought buy-in from a broad range of campus organizations including the Pace University President’s Commission on Diversity; faculty councils in Downtown New York City and Westchester; councils of administrators and staff members; the Pace Coalition for Diversity, a 15-year old organization on the Downtown campus, and its Westchester equivalent, the Pace Westchester Diversity Team; student clubs concerned with multiculturalism, gender and sexual orientation including the Muslim Students Association, and the officers of other student clubs and the student governments.
“Pace does not pretend intolerance doesn’t exist,” said Miles. “It has not attempted to cover up these incidents and has faced them with the utmost concern, starting with the President’s messages to everyone on campus.”
Supporting students. She added that Pace’s practice is to support students who are affected by intolerance, giving them systems for figuring out what they want to do about it and nurturing them through the process. These range from individual counseling to mentoring student advocacy groups to faculty encouragement to study social issues.
“Not on My Watch” builds on pluralism at Pace that stretches back to its founding 100 years ago when it welcomed women to classes in accounting, then an all-male field. The University’s 13,500 students are 40% Caucasian, 8% Hispanic, 8% Asian/Pacific Islander, 9% African American, 6% International and 29% other/unidentified.