Adopted by the university’s Board of Directors earlier this year, the statement reaffirms Wittenberg’s position on diversity and strengthens the university’s mission of educating the whole person. The statement on the plaque reads:
Wittenberg University values the totality of the human experience. We strongly support an atmosphere of racial harmony and diversity. We are a community committed to fostering a culturally diverse environment, free of discrimination. As an educational community, Wittenberg recognizes that a society where cultural differences are understood and appreciated is essential. We believe that each individual is unique, and is thus entitled to genuine respect, personal dignity, and the pursuit of academic excellence. The University accepts its obligation to ensure a diverse environment for all individuals, regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical ability, or disability. Thus, Wittenberg University deplores racism and will not tolerate any expressions of discrimination on University premises at any time.
The origins of this anti-racism statement have roots 35 years deep. In 1968 the newly formed student organization named Concerned Black Students (CBS) walked out against the university and presented a list of demands that it hoped would lead to a more tolerant community. One of those demands was a statement on racial tolerance. The development of the statement was spearheaded by CBS and was crafted and supported by the Student Senate and the Diversity Task Force last year. The statement adopted by the Board goes much further to include not only race, but gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical ability and disability.
“This year’s group of CBS members decided that it wanted to tackle this issue,” said Forest Wortham, director of Wittenberg’s multicultural programs and the Womyn’s Center. “This anti-racism statement is simply a confirmation of something that we have always practiced. It isn’t something for a day or a month; it is now an unquestionable part of the fabric of the university.”
On Saturday, Oct. 23, a group of about 300 alumni, students, faculty, staff and special guests gathered in front of the Benham-Pence Student Center located on Woodlawn Avenue., now officially known as Alumni Way, to learn about the importance of a tolerant campus. The bronze anti-racism plaque will remain on permanent display on an exterior wall of the center, located near the bronze statue of Wally Witt. This location was chosen for its close proximity to the site of the 1968 walk-out by CBS.
In addition to the development of the anti-racism statement, Wittenberg also formed a Diversity Task Force comprised of faculty and staff and appointed by the president during the 2003-04 academic year. This group meets regularly and is charged with promoting diversity and in helping to identify the university’s primary diversity training needs. In the future, the Diversity Task Force will plan and hold training sessions designed to develop skills and break down stereotypes and prejudices, which can often lead to dissension and polarization in the workplace.
For more information about the Diversity Task Force, contact Wortham at
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