Hollins has long been committed to fostering a campus community that encourages and values diversity and inclusivity. Ours is a culture of respect and a campus of tolerance.
Working to abolish prejudice never ends and Hollins is committed to promoting racial and cultural understanding. Most notably:
Over the years, our Student Government Association, Black Student Alliance, OUTloud, Spiritual and Religious Life Association, and other student clubs and organizations, along with faculty and staff, have developed a variety of activities and implemented programs that support diversity and inclusivity.
Cultural and Community Engagement (CCE) was created to support an inclusive community, promote acceptance, and celebrate difference. It includes the Early Transition Program, which is designed to assist new students from underrepresented groups, and the International Student Orientation Program, which focuses on helping international students adjust to living and studying at Hollins and in the United States. CCE also conducts Safe Haven workshops for those who want to serve as advocates for Hollins’ LBGTQ community.
Educating Women Who Will Make a Difference in the 21st Century, Hollins’ five-year strategic plan launched in 2006, reiterated our dedication “to high standards of respect, civility, and concern for others. Students must understand their own place and perspective within the context of an increasingly diverse society.” Hollins has promoted academic and experiential learning opportunities in support of this pledge. Connecting Liberal Arts Education and Experience to Achieve Results, the five-year strategic plan guiding the university through 2017, continues this commitment.
Last spring, Hollins announced a plan to further these efforts. We held listening sessions with students; conducted training sessions for faculty to help them lead classroom discussions where every student can feel respected; and provided workshops for student affairs staff and student leaders. Hollins’ New Student Orientation has added a program for incoming first-year students that is devoted to cultural competency and inclusivity.
In November 2015, Hollins administered a climate assessment survey. Its purpose was to gather important feedback regarding the university’s diversity and inclusivity strengths, and the areas where further community-building is needed. The results of the survey were the catalyst for a series of insight conversations where students can share perspectives and build capacity for critical dialogue. These discussions began in early March and will continue through the spring and the next academic year.
President Gray is currently finalizing appointments to the new Hollins Heritage Committee, a group of students, faculty, and staff who will help us develop a greater understanding of our history and seek ways to recognize and honor the mid-19th century slaves and others whose work ensured the institution’s survival during its early years. Scholarships were established more than a decade ago for the descendants of Oldfields, a nearby African-American community that played an instrumental role in the institution’s growth.
Hollins has and will continue to sponsor or participate in events that illuminate important issues related to diversity, inclusivity, and cultural history. A few examples include:
Distinguished speakers such as filmmaker Spike Lee, economist Julianne Malveaux, and educator Johnnetta Cole.
Hollins Theatre’s stage adaptation of Pulitzer Prize winner and Hollins alumna Natasha Trethewey’s poetry collection, Bellocq’s Ophelia.
A screening of the Oscar-nominated film Selma, which brought together six Roanoke Valley higher education institutions to promote discussions about equal rights.
Hollins’ goal is one we should all share: to encourage and ultimately become even more of a community that is welcoming, empowering, and prepared to engage in a civil and constructive exchange of ideas.
The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond is applauding Hollins students and administration for their response to the defacement of The Rock last weekend. Here is a statement from the organization, released March 29:PRESS RELEASE
JCRC COMMENDS HOLLINS UNIVERSITY FOR REACTION TO SWASTIKA DISCOVERY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Daniel Fogel, Director of Jewish Community Relations, (804) 545-8626
RICHMOND, VA – The Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC) of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond (JCFR) commends the administration and student body of Hollins University for their actions following the discovery of a swastika painted on The Rock, a campus landmark.
JCRC Chair, Frances F. Goldman said, “The swastika represents the ultimate symbol of hatred and its discovery in any context is extremely disconcerting. In the context of increased anti-Semitism in the U.S. and abroad the discovery of a swastika on a Virginia campus was distressing to say the least. The response of the Hollins University to this threatening event has been stellar, for which I am grateful.”
Hollins University President Nancy Gray posted to Facebook, “I wanted to express to you my profound anger and sorrow over the swastika that was painted on The Rock.… This was a threatening act that has no place at Hollins…. We will not tolerate this or any other malicious behavior that damages our core commitments of civil discourse, social justice, and respect for others…. I invite you to attend a special event on Front Quad called “Love Not Hate.” … We will not be intimidated or discouraged by shameful acts such as this.” Gray also, very appropriately made available resources for anyone on campus who feels unsafe, threatened or harassed. She also noted the Hollins University Security Department was investigating; WSLS 10 reported that the Roanoke County Police Department is investigating the matter as a possible hate crime.
Hollins University Chaplain, Jenny Call, said, “We are defined by our love and support for one another.” Powerful statements were also issued by Trish Hammer, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Students Patty O’Toole. The Rock has been repainted, “Take Back The Rock,” and Hollins students spent the afternoon chalking messages of love, tolerance and acceptance in the area.