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Spelman College

President's Letter to the Community

Welcome Back!

August 15, 2018

Greetings and welcome back!

Last week, we kicked off the new academic year by welcoming 15 new faculty members, who represent disciplines as diverse as Economics, Computer Science, Theater and Performance, Art and Visual Culture, World Languages, Biology and the Innovation Lab. As we listened to each tell us about their research and creative work, we were excited by the energy and commitment they are bringing to their new academic home.

Having welcomed our new faculty, we greeted our entering class. Sunday night, our celebration in Sisters Chapel was a high point of New Student Orientation. Over 600 students in the class of 2022, dressed in their white attire, shared a rousing display of talent and gifts during the new student induction ceremony. Class of 2022 is awesome! During the ceremony, 150 Spelman alumnae formally welcomed the new Spelmanites into the Spelman Sisterhood and, following the lead of our new SSGA President Bria Paige and SSGA Vice President Leah Herring, they recited the Student Pledge, included in the College’s Standards of Excellence Honor Code. It’s now official, our new students are part of the Spelman family.

Please join me in extending a warm welcome to all of the new members of the Spelman community.

Typically, in years past, I have used the occasion of the Welcome Back letter to catalogue many of the exciting experiences of Spelman students, faculty and staff during the summer break and all of the institutional advances the College has made in the past few months. In a subsequent mailing, I will do just that.

But for this mailing, I would like to bring the Spelman community up to date on the aftermath of a series of unsettling incidents that took place on campus at the end of the academic year. These were incidents that ran counter to the values that Spelman champions. All new Spelman sisters at the start of their Spelman journey pledge the following:

“As a Spelman College woman, I make a promise to be a person of civility, commitment, and consistency as evidenced in my attitude, behavior and academic achievement on and off campus, including abroad. I honor Spelman College as a community that nurtures spirit, scholarship and service. I show genuine civility and demonstrate tolerance and respect for other cultures.”

The disturbing events that happened this spring were not our best self.

As you may recall, at the end of last semester, members of our LGBTQIA community were the targets of hateful messages and, in one instance, a trans student was knocked to the ground as he exited a residence hall one night. After soliciting input from the community and reviewing visitor logs, a definitive identification of the assailants, however, was not possible. The absence of cameras on exits and entrances to residence halls made it impossible to gather visual evidence of the incident. To date, we do not know who was responsible for the hateful messages or knocking the student to the ground.

In the course of the College’s review of both the hate speech and the physical incident, a number of issues were identified and are being addressed: 1) It was determined that any evidence of hate speech should immediately be escalated to a major campus offense as opposed to a residence hall violation; 2) Public Safety will issue a campus wide alert in the event of a campus assault; 3) Public Safety will immediately enhance patrols on campus in the event of a physical incident; and 4) The College has installed 30 additional cameras at the exits and entrances to the residence halls.

At the semester’s end, Dr. Darryl Holloman, vice president for Student Affairs, Dean of Students Dr. Fran’Cee Brown-McClure, Title IX Director Nicole Johnson and I had an opportunity to meet with a number of queer students and review with them their suggestions for making Spelman a more welcoming community to the incredible diversity on campus. Throughout the fall semester, Dr. Holloman will update members of the Spelman community on the initiatives the College has undertaken to make Spelman a more inclusive environment—including those in several units in the Student Affairs division, as well as in Academic Affairs, Facilities & Maintenance, Human Resources, Public Safety and Title IX.

As the new academic year begins, I welcome you to join me in working to make Spelman the “Beloved Community” that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned for all of us.


Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.