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University Memo Suggests Fighting ‘Systemic Racism’ Necessary If Applying For Enrollment And Employment
University of Colorado, Boulder.
Photo by raclro/GettyImages

A memo sent by University of Colorado-Boulder officials on June 5 to all students and employees states that systemic racism exists, and asserts that applicants to the school must be willing to “combat systemic racism” because that would be a “non-negotiable condition of enrollment and employment.”

Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement Bob Boswell, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Akirah Bradley, and Associate Vice Chancellor the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator Valerie Simons wrote:

We strongly support the many messages of solidarity that members of the CU Boulder community have shared in recent days, from the chancellor, vice chancellors, deans, department chairs and directors to CU Student Government, United Government of Graduate Students, and other student groups. At their core, many have expressed the following: Black Lives Matter, and as a campus we condemn all acts of racist violence and discriminatory behavior — regardless of who commits them.

We may be confronting the unparalleled challenges of a global pandemic, but we can’t let that work distract us from making real changes to our campus culture to combat systemic racism and bias-motivated behavior. These changes must be seen in how we recruit students, faculty, staff and administrators — in how we signal to them the need to embrace our community values as a bottom line, non-negotiable condition of enrollment and employment.

As Campus Reform pointed out, the Chancellor of CU Boulder, Phil DiStefano, has stated, “The fundamental role of a university is to be a place where community members hear from a variety of speakers that may inform or oppose their positions.”

But on June 18, DiStefano released a statement in which he said: “In response to incidents of racist and discriminatory speech in our campus community, I want to be clear — racist and discriminatory speech runs counter to our values and is not welcome at CU Boulder. While as a public institution we must acknowledge each person’s First Amendment right to free speech, we strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t want to or believes they cannot live our values of respecting the rights of others and accepting our differences to reconsider their ability to be a productive member of our community.”

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education President and CEO Greg Lukianoff told Campus Reform that the CU-Boulder perspective was “one of the starkest of attempts to imply that ideological conformity is a prerequisite to being part of the university community.”

“University presidents and chancellors often take great advantage of their bully pulpit to condemn behavior they deem inappropriate, but they should be careful lest they create a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom, the research, and the institution itself,” said Lukianoff. “In order to function as both a ‘marketplace of ideas’ and the ‘laboratory in the looking glass,’ an effective institution of research and higher learning needs to always take seriously the possibility it might be wrong, test its assumptions, and not accept any dogmas.”

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