Last Tuesday, in the aftermath of Governor Phil Bryant’s signing House Bill 1523 (known as the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act”), I issued a statement to the media that incorporated information I am sharing with you below.
Over the last few days, conversations about civility and respect have ensued across the Delta State University campus. Most recently, in meetings with students and faculty, I reinforced Delta State’s longstanding commitment to an open and inclusive university campus community—a theme I included in comments I made during the 2015 State of the University Address at the university’s annual convocation.
The signing of this legislation into law, coupled with some recent expressions of opinions on campus, present the university with yet another opportunity to restate our commitment to inclusiveness, fairness, and a safe and welcoming campus for all.
As stated in the guiding principles for the university, Delta State promotes mutual respect, teamwork, fairness, and integrity among all of our employees and students, and the university works diligently to create a climate in which students, employees, and constituents are valued and nurtured. Delta State strives to be a safe environment for all of our students, faculty, and staff, and we celebrate the many differences that make this university great. Those goals and principles are central to our mission and will not change.
Over the past few years, Delta State has hosted Safe Space training programs in which I, along with numerous faculty and staff members, have participated. The goals of the national Safe Space program are to create campus spaces where LGBTQ students and employees feel safe, supported, and valued as members of the university community, and to reduce fear of reprisal and discrimination within the university community. The university will continue to support that program and the work it does.
This week, Delta State is hosting a professional development webinar that is open to any faculty or staff member who wants to support the LGBTQ community on campus. The program, “Beyond LGBTQ: Supporting the Spectrum of Sexual & Gender Identities of Your Students,” is scheduled for Wednesday, April 13 at 1:00 pm in the Baioni Conference Center in Broom Hall.
I ask for your continuing efforts to ensure Delta State remains a campus that embraces and demonstrates civility and respect.