A University statement on academic freedom and Diversity Week 2017

Saint Xavier University (SXU) embraces the diversity of its community and recognizes that diversity is one of its strengths. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to be proud of their identities; accept the identities of others; celebrate differences; and challenge stereotypes, misinformation and ignorance. Diversity Week, held annually during the month of November, focuses SXU on celebrating the diversity of its community.

All University programming is created to emphasize a sense of community, while stimulating dialogue that is engaging and sometimes challenging. Academic freedom allows for an open exchange and flow of ideas and is central to the purpose of  academe. Academic freedom welcomes professors to communicate and debate important issues among the University community without fear of intrusion from external governing or interest groups. As a result, it allows academics to make vital contributions to public life on campus.

This year, Diversity Week hosted many events and lectures that invited the campus community to come together and discuss topics relevant to a variety of target audiences.

The afternoon presentation from Tuesday, November 7, was a powerful discourse on how history, media, hip-hop culture and religion impact social interaction with peers. It was well attended and well received by SXU students. The title drew concern from some within the SXU community citing its inappropriateness and not reflecting the values of SXU. Faculty members and the administration met on behalf of faculty and staff prior to the presentation to discuss the impact of the title on the members of the community. Subsequently, the panel presentation went forward but the flyer was removed from the website and across campus. This action was approved by the professor, whose academic freedom to speak freely within the academy was affirmed, while ensuring that the SXU community’s concerns regarding the inappropriateness of the title were honored and supported.

The administration wishes to thank its faculty and staff who exercised their voice and agency within the SXU community, their community. The administration also wishes to thank the professors who engaged in the discourse, that is at the hallmark of academic life, to come to a resolution in this situation. SXU values the diversity of its community members and hopes this process and outcome supported that diversity.