Letter from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Inclusion

By The Beacon | March 16, 2016 9:57am

As co-chairs of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Inclusion (PACOI), we read the March 3 Beacon headline story, Disconnected: Black students on The Bluff feel they don’t belong,and were once again inspired by the courage of our students to speak up when they believe our community has not reached its goal of being as inclusive as it could be. UP should be a place where everyone can feel accepted, welcomed and included. It is clear to us that there is still work to be done.

In 2011, the University of Portland adopted a statement on inclusion to publicly affirm our belief that every person, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social or economic class, age or disability should be treated with respect and dignity. But this statement was only one step in a long process.

Being an inclusive campus community requires an ongoing commitment from all of us to acknowledge and honor the diversity of life experiences and perspectives of our fellow community members, especially those that may differ from our own. We must listen to one another and learn from one another. It is only when we take the time to listen that we can better understand and address the subtle ways others within our community may feel excluded.

Every voice is critical in reaching our goal of creating and sustaining an inclusive environment where all people are welcomed as children of God and feel valued as full members of our community. Our work in this area will never be complete: There will always be more we can do to support and lift up our fellow Pilots.

Students in the Beacon article said they wanted to see more direct action. This is a very timely request. For the past two months, a group of students, faculty and staff have been planning an opportunity to come together as a community to discuss how we best address these concerns and take concrete steps to improve our community. We invite students, faculty and staff to join us for the upcoming discussion “Community Engagement on Racial Inclusion” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22 in the Mehling Hall Ballroom.

Facilitated by UP students Khalid Osman and Emma Martinez and sponsored by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Inclusion, the Student Association of Social Workers, Black Student Union, Black Lives Matter, and the Office of Student Activities, this event will provide attendees the opportunity to share their personal reflections about embracing diversity, learn from one another’s experiences, and explore how we can more actively promote racial inclusion in our community. We are hopeful that many in our community will be able to attend.


Joane Moceri, dean of the School of Nursing and co-chair of the PACOI

Fr. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C., vice president for University Relations and co-chair of the PACOI

For more information on the event, please feel free to email diversity@up.edu.