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Dear Faculty and Staff,

I want to convey my deep appreciation for standing together as one CSU community against hate and for the support you continue to show to our students. As I promised, I want to share with you our current thinking and plans to move forward to address these issues with our campus community.

The flyers attacked our LGBTQ+ community and racial and religious minorities on campus. Whether we belong to these communities or not, we are all affected. This incident and others like it across the country show that racism and bigotry are pervasive and present in and around our communities, so it is up to each of us to continue to raise our voice and speak out when these attacks occur.

To be clear, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and sexism are issues that persist both in explicit declarations such as this event, as well as in more systemic manifestations. As a university community, it is our responsibility not just to support our students who are affected, but to have clear and candid discussions about the many ways these forms of oppression are present in our communities and systems. Towards that goal, I am including a timeline of events about this incident, and some of the steps we are preparing to tackle issues of hatred and discrimination in our community.

Thank you again for standing together on the side of justice at this delicate time for CSU and making our campus community a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming space for all students, faculty, and staff. We are in this together!

Yours truly,

Dr. Maurice A. Stinnett

VP University Engagement & Chief Diversity Officer

Timeline of Events

Thursday, Oct 12

  • In the morning a faculty member saw a white supremacist flyer attacking our students. She took down the flyer and notified Campus Police.
  • Campus Police called Conference Services about the flyer. Their team also fanned out across campus to remove any other similar content.
  • Campus Police and Conference Services found a total of 6 flyers in the Main Classroom building, which were removed immediately.

Friday, Oct 13

  • Dr. Boyd Yarbrough, Vice President for Student Affairs, met students who self-identify as LGBTQ+ to hear their feelings and concerns, and to listen and learn how they would feel best supported and affirmed at CSU in light of the flyer.
  • Dr. Yarbrough convened a group of Student Affairs and University Engagement staff to review the incident and next steps.
  • Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) met with LBGTQ+ students who came for a pre-planned meeting to discuss the flyers and other issues.

Monday, Oct 16

  • President Berkman sends university-wide message that "CSU remains fully committed to a campus community that respects all individuals, regardless of age, race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and other historical bases for discrimination" and "that a spirit of inclusiveness will always be central to the very identity of our University." The statement was originally developed as a response to a controversial event prior to the fliers being posted.

Tuesday, Oct 17

  • Dr. Yarbrough and VP of Diversity and Engagement Dr. Maurice Stinnett meet LGBTQ+ student leaders to discuss their feelings in light of the flyers.
  • Dr. Yarbrough and Dr. Stinnett convene group of staff of Student Affairs, Diversity, and Community Engagement Divisions to discuss incident and next steps.
  • President Berkman sends a follow up message clarifying: "I wanted to acknowledge that yesterday I failed to express my personal outrage over a recent incident involving anti-LGBTQ+ flyers that were recently posted on campus," and invites the community to participate in a forum about this issue on Oct 18.
  • OIE examines whether the persons who posted the flyers can be identified.

Wednesday, Oct 18

  • President Berkman meets with university leadership to discuss best ways to respond to the situation.
  • Public forum held with President Berkman, Dr. Yarbrough and Dr. Stinnett in the Main Classroom Auditorium to discuss community concerns.

Thursday, Oct 19

  • Students come to protest at President Berkman's office, demanding to speak with him. The President is unavailable, and Dr. Stinnett is called to deescalate the situation. Students agree to sit down and discuss how to move forward to create a safer campus.
  • University leaders meet with CSU Board Chairman Moreno to discuss how to respond as a community to prevent hate on campus and to reach out to external community experts in LGBTQ+ affairs.
  • Student leadership of LGBTQ+ student organizations meet with Chairman Moreno to discuss concerns and needs from CSU.
  • Chief of Police, Gary Lewis, meets with LGBTQ+ graduate assistant and students at the Center to discuss safety concerns and needs.

Friday, Oct 20

  • Dr. Stinnett convenes representatives from the LGBTQ+ community to discuss changes that need to be made on campus to help people feel safe.
  • Faculty Senate sends message that "Those flyers were vile and reprehensible and do not reflect CSU's values."
  • Chairman Moreno, President Berkman, and university community send message that "We unequivocally condemn the abhorrent message on these flyers. An attack on one group is an attack on our whole campus," and that we will invest in Cultural Humility and Cultural Sensitivity education, and create a collaborative advisory committee that will devise a plan to address the specific concerns we have heard from the community.

Monday, Oct 23

  • Dr. Stinnett meets with Student Affairs leaders and his team of experts to advance the requests from the LGBTQ+ community, and set a plan to discuss potential policy changes at the university with the CSU community.

Next Steps

  • On Thursday, Oct 26, Chairman Moreno, Dr. Stinnett, Dr. Bowen, General Counsel, and Student Affairs, met with the Anti-Defamation League, three leading LGBTQ groups in our community (Equality Ohio, LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, and The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio), the Student Government Association and 3 LGBTQ+ student representatives to plan a discussion with our community about policies and procedures at CSU.
  • Next month President Berkman and Dr. Stinnett will convene a diverse group of CSU leaders, including administration officials, faculty, student leaders from the LGBTQ+ and other minority communities, CSU General Counsel, a Cuyahoga County judge, and self-identified LGBTQ+ lawyers to discuss what are the legal bounds in which we can operate, and what we can do to prevent these incidents from happening on campus. During this session, we will be asking these essential questions and more: What can we do as a public institution of higher learning to prevent hate speech on our campus? What does the law say? In addition, we’ll review our current policies and procedures to address revisions, modifications and develop a general consensus around university policy/procedure regarding our response to any group who says that they feel threatened or unsafe at CSU.
  • How You Can Get Involved: The Diversity and Engagement Division will soon convene a public forum open to the CSU community where we will discuss university policies and procedures designed to prevent hate speech, and will engage our diverse community in partnership and in dialogue on what we need to do collectively to build a welcoming and inclusive campus environment for all CSU members. Stay tuned for further details. To lend a hand or participate in the conversation, please contact the Chief Diversity Officer’s office at 216.523.7292 or engagement@csuohio.edu.

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