In case you missed it last week, here is what James Ramsey, the president of the University of Louisville, wrote in an email to the university about a recent controversy involving a lot of people dressed up in silly sombreros, mustaches, maracas and serapes:
The University of Louisville Family,
I deeply regret the Halloween costumes worn by my staff and me. We made a mistake wearing a costume that misrepresents the culture of Mexicans and Mexican Americans and does not foster the inclusion and diversity efforts that we have worked hard to build over the past 13 years on our campus.
I, and I alone, take full responsibility for this incident. I have prayed for God’s forgiveness, and I ask for your forgiveness as well. We now have an opportunity to use this incident to bring about meaningful changes that will strengthen us as a campus.
To move forward, I need your help and support. We have met with many individuals and groups on campus and have learned a lot in a short time.
During the time spent with various groups to date, including members of the Hispanic and Latino/a Faculty and Staff Association, we have learned of things to accommodate the needs of our Hispanic and Latino/a students, faculty and staff. We will begin immediately to raise resources to:
- Recruit more Hispanic and Latino/a for faculty, staff and administrative positions
- Advance efforts to build Hispanic and Latino/a scholarship and financial aid
- Improve facilities to house all diversity support programs
- Support more fully and equally UofL’s programs for underrepresented faculty, staff and students
- Better address the needs of our community’s diverse populations
These actions align with our campus’s environment of inclusiveness that empowers us all to achieve our highest potential without fear of prejudice or bias. But these actions alone are not enough. We must move forward more aggressively with the implementation of the strategies for change presented to me last spring by the Commission on Diversity and Racial Equality.
Also, I will continue to meet with and listen to you, the campus and our community, on how we can reinforce our 2020 Plan commitment to diversity and social justice. I will work in collaboration with you so that all voices are heard.
It is for me to take the lead on these efforts –I will not delegate to anyone else. I will call on you and our shared governance structure of campus leaders to assure that these commitments to our diverse populations on campus are swiftly implemented. We will ensure that this is not a “zero-sum” game—these new initiatives will not be achieved at the expense of existing commitments.
As we come together as one university, we will work to make us the best university in Kentucky and beyond, one that fosters a campus climate where diversity is proactively understood, pursued, nurtured and celebrated.