Office of the President
November 14, 2016

Uniting as a community

Committees and Reports

Dear Members of the Brown Community,

In the wake of a divisive election season, Brown can help heal and serve society by being the best of who we are. It is more important than ever to reaffirm our community values, unite as a community to condemn harassment and discrimination of people based on their identities, and double down on our commitment to Brown’s core mission of teaching, learning and research.

We believe that Brown’s mission of "advancing knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry" continues to be the best way we can contribute to healing divides.

The last five days have seen the country and our campus coming to grips with the outcome of one of the most polarizing presidential election campaign in memory. The tone, tenor and rhetoric of this election ran counter to our values as a community. No matter which candidate each of us supported, we must recognize that fully half of the voters in the country felt exactly the opposite of what we feel. As the home of the brightest scholars and educators in the country, and as a campus that prides itself on intellectual rigor, diversity and inclusion as we engage in protests or celebrate the outcome of the election, we have to do so in the best Brown tradition: with integrity, passion for our beliefs, and respect for every member of the Brown community.

Brown is committed to bringing together talented students, faculty and staff with a range of perspectives and experiences, and cultivating an environment that promotes free inquiry and discovery. The success of our endeavor requires that all individuals feel safe and secure to express their identities and views, to engage freely without fear or intimidation.

In the days following the election, the warmth and cohesiveness of the Brown community has been displayed in a wide variety of ways, such as the letter from faculty published today in the Brown Daily Herald that expresses support for undocumented members of our community, as well as through numerous gatherings in centers and departments around campus. Sadly, we have also seen the ugly side of this divisive election season, such as heartbreaking accounts of members of the Brown community being harassed on the basis of their identity, vandalism of American flags set out for Veterans Day on the Main Green, and partisan divides among students and faculty in classrooms. Similar strains are being felt at other campuses and, indeed, in cities and towns around the United States.

This is a time to reaffirm community norms and standards of respectful behavior towards others. The Brown community embraces diversity and the treatment of all people with dignity, regardless of educational attainment, race, class, ethnicity, gender, religion, political views or other aspects of identity. Harassment and intimidation are contrary to Brown’s values and will not be tolerated. We reject the hateful and intolerant targeting of different identity groups. Brown’s emphasis on diversity, inclusion and respect goes hand-in-hand with our mission of advancing knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry, and as we continue to advance these principles, we have developed a document of resources for faculty, students and staff who are experiencing issues or concerns or are in a position to support those who are. We also continue to work with undocumented members of our community to provide them with information and support.

This also is a time to reinforce our commitment to our core activities of teaching, learning and research so that we can better understand the deep divisions that exist in this country and the world, which separate people based on where they live, the levels of education they have, and by the color of their skin and their heritage. These divisions are not going to disappear after the election. We have to confront them, understand them, and figure out how to bridge them. Whether the issue is job creation, wealth inequality, national security, structural racism, immigrant rights, health and health care, or gender equality, we look to members of the Brown community to understand the problems our society faces and work toward positive change. Now more than ever, our country needs what we do here at Brown — the knowledge we generate and the leaders we prepare for lives of usefulness and reputation.

During this time of immense change, the work Brown does to better understand the world and to help confront its most complex challenges can make a tremendous impact in serving our communities, the nation and the world. Let’s take care of each other and ourselves, reaffirm our core values, and recommit to the important work we do here at Brown.


Christina Paxson, President
Richard M. Locke, Provost
Eric Estes, Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services