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From:​ UND Administration [mailto:​no-reply@und.

edu​]
Sent:​ Wednesday, October 05, 2016 3:46 PM
Subject:​ Statement from the University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota has completed its investigation of the two incidents involving
racially-charged photos recently shared on social media platforms.
The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) administers the student conduct
process on behalf of the University of North Dakota. In accordance with the process outlined in
the ​UND Code​ of Student Life, a thorough investigation of each incident was conducted. After a
full review of the information, the ​Code​ of Student Life, and the laws pertaining to each incident,
and after consulting with General Council, OSRR has concluded that neither incident constitutes
a violation of the ​UND Code
​ of Student Life. The conclusion was driven by the Constitutional
protection of free speech. Our ability to disclose the details of our findings is restricted by the
federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The investigation is now closed.

Message from President Mark Kennedy
Dear Campus Community:
On Friday, Sept. 30, I met with several student leaders to talk about their concerns about the
campus environment. I continue to be appalled that photos with racially-charged messages were
conceived and disseminated. I am very aware that students, other members of our campus
community, and individuals beyond our campus have been hurt by these incidents. The leaders
made it clear these were not isolated incidents. As an educational institution, we value academic
freedom and welcome sharing diverse views and opinions. But even though free speech is
protected, that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t condemn expressions that are hurtful to
others. Although the federal Family Rights and Privacy Act prohibits the University from
commenting on specifics related to these photos, I do condemn the thoughtlessness that led to
these incidents.
As part of the conversation with student leaders, we talked about the concept of Zero Tolerance.
While I appreciate the desire for such a policy, it is unachievable under the First Amendment to

the U.S. Constitution. The challenge we all face is to find the balance between wanting to
eliminate expressions of racism and bigotry and supporting the free speech guaranteed by the
First Amendment. If we value freedom of speech, we must acknowledge that some may find the
expressions of others unwelcome, painful, or even, offensive. We can, however, speak out and
condemn such expressions, and we can work to create a more welcoming and inclusive
environment.
In addition to talking about the photo incidents, I visited with the students about two other
important areas: the support services that we provide to diverse populations, and the educational
opportunities related to diversity and inclusion that we provide to the campus community.
Last week, I directed Sandra Mitchell, Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, to
convene the Diversity Council. Among the important work of the Diversity Council will be
completing inventories of existing campus diversity and inclusion practices and programs—our
policies, support services, and educational programs—identifying best practices to enhance the
University’s understanding of diversity and inclusion in the higher educational setting, and
providing me with a list of recommendations to consider for the campus.
In terms of the educational experiences that we provide to students, the Diversity Council will be
reviewing our existing diversity curriculum. I want to make sure we have courses that challenge
students to consider alternative perspectives and which will help students better understand how
effectively engaging those with diverse backgrounds is essential for their future success. We
have committed faculty who care deeply about diversity and who will be invited to help
strengthen our diversity offerings and opportunities on campus. I will be reaching out to the
Essential Studies and Curriculum Review committees to ask them to fast-track the approval of
courses that meet UND’s diversity requirements for the United States Diversity and Global
Diversity courses.
I have already acted on two requests made by the student leaders: one, that the Badlands Room
in the Memorial Union, which celebrates American Indian leadership in higher education, remain
unlocked (this change is already in place), and two, that one or two students be added to the
Diversity Council membership. I have asked Sandra Mitchell to recommend two student
representatives for the Diversity Council.
I am committed to the work that we need to do to create a more welcoming and inclusive
environment at UND. More than that, however, I am committed to making sure that we have the
support in place to help all of our students succeed, and that we have the educational
opportunities in place for students, faculty and staff to help us all move toward One UND.
Mark Kennedy
President