November 12, 2015

Dear Members of the Hobart and William Smith Community,

I write today following the national dialogue regarding racism on college campuses and to express my outrage about the recent actions of some members of our community.

In the past year, our campus has been involved in a community dialogue regarding issues of race, gender, class, discrimination and sexual violence, with the goal of enhancing a culture of respect on campus, one that is inclusive and that supports the safety and well-being of all students. I have been impressed that as a community we have not minimized or shied away from addressing difficult issues but instead have entered into challenging conversations that have led to change. It is because so many at HWS have taken these difficult steps that the actions of those cowardly few perpetuating hate via social media are so egregious.

At the heart of our efforts has been the notion that each and every one of us must be invested and actively working to enhance our culture. We cannot place the burden of responsibility on those whose lives are most deeply affected by bigotry and inequality but instead must work together. Initiatives like Chaplain Maurice Charles’ steering committee will gather us to address equity and diversity, supporting established programs and creating new opportunities for everyone to engage in positive change.

Let me be clear: racism in all its forms has no place at Hobart and William Smith and will not be tolerated. I was therefore appalled to learn that some members of our community are hiding behind the anonymity of apps like Yik Yak to perpetuate racism and undermine our good work. Although it can be difficult to identify those who conceal themselves in the obscurity of social media as they spread hate, we must hold one another to the highest of standards.

As a member of this community, I am personally committed to this effort and as we work together in the coming days and months, I urge us all to confront inequity head-on as we also guard against intolerance in our own thoughts and actions.


Mark D. Gearan


Share suggestions and ideas for change with Hobart and William Smith Colleges:

A student group, the Coalition of Concerned Students, is working to ensure that the Colleges are a safe environment for all students and are joining with the Colleges and the HWS Community for Change to enact policy and climate changes. The Coalition of Concerned Students can be reached at:

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