The following message was emailed to students, faculty and staff on September 19, 2019
Last week, an unknown individual or individuals with malicious intent sought to spread a message of bigotry, division and fear among members of our campus community through emails sent to seven members of our faculty and staff and five offices on campus. Our faculty and staff have worked to protect everyone on our campus while striving to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
We hear the questions posed by some of our students: can you see us, can you hear us, do you understand our lived experiences? Yes, we see you. Yes, we hear you. And, no, we cannot fully understand what some of you are enduring.
The emails, steeped in the vitriol of white supremacy and nationalism, were sent to individual and office inboxes associated with the Department of Sociology, the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the LGBTQ+ Center, and the Intercultural Center. These emails have hurt, scared, threatened, angered, and confused many on our campus in different ways. This cuts at the core of who we are at Wake Forest and impacts us all.
While none of the emails contained actionable threats or detailed a specific attack on our campus, they still managed to elicit the fear the sender intended. Wake Forest consulted with law enforcement and national threat assessment experts — including the FBI’s leading experts on domestic terrorism, white nationalism, and hate crimes — before deciding to continue classes and normal University operations. The increased police presence on campus and enhanced security measures will continue while the investigation proceeds.
Our decision to continue classes does not diminish the real emotions and concern some in our community still feel. We pledge to stand by all our students, staff and faculty when they experience hate and discrimination of any kind. We will revise protocols where necessary and improve on the processes that we know are effective. We must remember who we are as a caring and supportive community and move forward in the spirit of those values.
There are many sources of support for those of you who are affected by these hateful emails. The University Counseling Center (336-758-5273), the Chaplain’s Office (336-758-5210) and the Employee Assistance Program (336-716-5493) are invaluable resources, as are our friendships and circles of personal support. Please continue to look out for each other.
Nathan Hatch, President
Rogan Kersh, Provost
Jane Aiken, Dean of the School of Law
Michele Gillespie, Dean of the College
Charles Iacovou, Dean of the School of Business
Penny Rue, Vice President for Campus Life
José Villalba, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
Jonathan Walton, Dean of the School of Divinity
See a list of employees joining and leaving the University in June 2017:
To support and advance Wake Forest’s commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for every member of the campus community, Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue has established the Police Accountability Task Force.
The Task Force, which includes faculty, student and alumni representatives, is charged with overseeing the implementation of recommendations related to University Police made in a report by independent consultants following a review in Spring 2014 of concerns regarding racial bias.
In addition, the Task Force will work to identify other initiatives related to University Police that could contribute to a safe and inclusive environment.
“In our ongoing work to build community, the formation of this group is an important step,” said Rue.
Professor of Law Kami Simmons has been named chair of the Task Force.
A message from Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue, Dean of Students and Associate Vice President for Campus Life Adam Goldstein and Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Barbee Oakes to the Wake Forest community.
Are you interested in working toward a positive, inclusive campus climate? Here are several ways your efforts can make a difference:
- Deac Tank: We are pleased to introduce Deac Tank, a campus-wide competition to find and fund new student-centered ideas to help Wake Forest live up to our ideal of a diverse and inclusive learning environment. Students with the best submissions will receive funding in the spring semester to implement their ideas to improve our community. Students must express initial interest by Dec. 5 and submit proposals by Jan. 23.
- Deliberative Dialogue Action Teams: Last week, hundreds of Wake Foresters participated in a campus-wide Deliberative Dialogue to address the fundamental question of “what does it mean to live in community?” By the end of next week, the Pro Humanitate Institute will announce the opportunity to participate in action teams to transform the aspirational into the practical as we work toward ensuring our campus is a place where all feel welcome and a sense of belonging.
- Celebrate Civility: This past summer, first-year students read P.M. Forni’s Choosing Civility for Project Wake. In a continuation of related campus events and experiences, the Student Advising Leadership Council and the Pro Humanitate Institute have organized a campus-wide banner-decorating event celebrating civility on Wednesday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Manchester Plaza.
- Town Hall about Campus Climate: A group of dedicated student leaders has organized a second Town Hall for Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in Pugh Auditorium to address race relations, curriculum requirements, policing practices and more.
A comprehensive calendar of related events is available on the Provost’s website.
Thank you to the diverse groups of student, faculty and staff who have taken numerous actions and engaged in countless conversations relating to campus climate issues such as bias, event planning and management, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. While there is room for progress, Wake Forest is becoming a better place each day because of your efforts to foster a more equitable and inclusive campus community.
A message from Vice President of Campus Life Penny Rue to the Wake Forest community.
In my first year at Wake Forest, many people — students, faculty and staff — took time to tell me what was special about Wake Forest, and for that I am grateful. It helped me begin to know this place in a deeply meaningful way. Others took the time to tell me what they think is wrong about Wake Forest, and for that I am even more grateful. Wake has a quest for excellence, and in that quest we must be fearless in our ability to look honestly and constructively at our community.
One of the most searing moments of my first year was a Town Hall meeting, organized by students last spring, to share concerns about bias and mistreatment from university police. Their stories were poignant and painful, and they underscored what I had already learned: that not all Deacs feel the same sense of inclusion. As one African American student had said to me, “Oh, we feel welcome, Wake is a welcoming place. We just don’t feel valued.” This must change.