November 2, 2016

What Diversity and Inclusion Mean at Adelphi

Dear members of the Adelphi community,

In the last few weeks, incidents and events such as peaceful protests and inflammatory rhetoric on social media have challenged the fabric and nature of our community. As a University, we have a long tradition of civic engagement both on campus and as part of national movements. Following our open campus discussion last week, I was optimistic that we had turned a corner and were heading in a more positive direction. However, an event over the weekend leads me to share this important message with you today. 

Halloween is an occasion for fun and frivolity. Unfortunately, over the weekend, an incident at an off-campus party took a distressing turn when a few of our students posed for photos that seemed to make light of racial issues and shared one of the images on social media.

The charged photo and the ensuing posts, which we recognize may fall within the boundaries of free speech, provoked feelings of disrespect and disappointment among some members of our community.

Although the photo and the related comments had already been shared, it is encouraging that the student who posted the image immediately deleted it when he learned how offensive it was to a viewer.  It is especially encouraging to learn that students involved with the photo and its posting and some of the students who expressed concern over the posting are meeting later tonight to engage in dialogue. 

Freedom of speech is a constitutional right—one that we, as a community of teachers and scholars, proudly uphold. Yet, we also adhere to a code of conduct that calls on us to treat one another with “courtesy, consideration and professionalism.” Speech that is racist or hateful has no place at Adelphi. When we learn of situations that violate our code of conduct or present a threat, we are quick to act to ensure the safety of our community and to uphold the values of Adelphi University.

Creating a community in which everyone is respected and feels safe and valued is paramount to me. It is something that I addressed last March in my Inaugural Address when I said that “I think all of us are going to need to dig deep and challenge our stereotypes, challenge our prejudices and develop an awareness and empathy for different points of view.”

Discrimination, harassment or retaliation of any type will not be tolerated at Adelphi. These actions have no place in our community. We have the collective responsibility to ensure that Adelphi remains a respectful, caring and safe community for all of our members.  Our community—and the unique environment we create—is a vital asset that we all cherish. It defines who we are and is the feature I most often hear mentioned by students, faculty and staff when describing the University—that we are a place that cares and benefits from the multiplicity of views and backgrounds that we share.

A university is a place for exploring different ideas—ideas that challenge what we believe and how we view the world. We are committed to encouraging this discourse and dialogue. We must be mindful, though, of bringing more light than heat to difficult discussions.

Last week, we came together for a powerful and productive dialogue on what it means to be a community in which all perspectives are welcome and listening to one another is a shared value. We must adhere to these principles.

There are many productive ways for you to be part of the dialogue:

  • Attend one of the many programs hosted by our student clubs.
  • Attend and participate in programs offered by University offices and organizations.
  • Participate in productive discussions with faculty, peers and colleagues.
  • Reach out to our Diversity Committee.

We are making progress, as evidenced by the discussion at last week’s Unity Dialogue and Storytelling Forum. Let’s keep the conversation going and remain mindful that our actions, even if not intended to offend, can have deep and lasting consequences.

You can learn more about how we can foster a more inclusive community at I also invite you to share your thoughts with me at or with Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Perry Greene at

We are one Adelphi. It is up to all of us to model what diversity and inclusion really mean, not only for ourselves, but also for the broader community.  

Now is our time to pull together.

All the best, 
Signed by Dr. Riordan
Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D.
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