Chancellor Coombe wrote the letter below to DU students, faculty and staff today.
Dear Members of the DU Community,
Not long ago, we became aware of an unfortunate incident involving some of our students.
Just over a month ago, a University of Denver fraternity and sorority jointly held a party with the theme "Cowboys and Indians." Costumes worn at this event reflected negative stereotypes of Native American peoples.
Whether or not anyone meant to be disrespectful or hurtful, their actions did inflict painful wounds. We must all come to understand how our actions affect others, and how cartoonish depictions not only push us apart, but also reflect our limited understanding of one another.
Members of the Native Student Alliance, the Campus Activities office, the Center for Multicultural Excellence, and the involved fraternity and sorority have already embarked on a learning and healing process, meeting several times since the incident to talk, and more importantly, to listen. The three student organizations cooperated on an information table on Driscoll Green, and the fraternity and sorority read an apology publicly there on Wednesday.
As members of the University Community, particularly students preparing to be leaders in an increasingly diverse and global society, we must respect and value our differences. We must fight at every turn the perpetuation of stereotypical and derogatory misrepresentations. It is the responsibility of every member of the DU community to ensure that we continue to create an inclusive and equitable campus environment. We will all hold ourselves to this.
We hope that this incident, though negative, can stimulate a broader conversation on campus. As our community becomes more diverse, we still have work to do with regard to mutual understanding and inclusion.
I thank you all for joining this effort, and for your commitment to these values.
Robert D. CoombeChancellor