President's response to reports of racist speech by a faculty member

The following is Miami President Gregory Crawford's statement to the Miami community:

June 5, 2020

Dear Miami Community,

I heard many reports last evening that an individual directed racial slurs and inflammatory comments toward protesters at an off-campus location in Oxford as they were expressing their First Amendment rights about the racism, hatred and intolerance displayed in our nation. Videos, texts, and surveys were distributed, and people who were there, community members and city council members, sent emails regarding the incident, including quotes. I choose not to name the individual or dignify the reported comment here; it is posted widely on social media platforms. The faculty member has denied the allegations and is a retired faculty member, currently teaching an online course.

Everyone has a right to free speech. So do I. I declare here that I unequivocally denounce these vile words in the strongest possible way. Racist speech and acts are antithetical to our values and principles. No student will be required to take a course from this faculty member. Our academic leaders are working to make this happen.

I came to Miami University four years ago because I believe in its core values, its student-centered mission, its spirited faculty and staff, and its loyal alumni. I am totally devoted to our mission and our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Today, I reaffirm my values and dedication to this institution I respect so much. Join me to build the best Miami University, the best in all of us, that we can. Our values call upon us to uphold empathy, equality, respect, and diversity, to elevate others with our words and inspire them with our actions. During my interview here in 2016, a student asked what Love and Honor means to me. I answered that it was all about virtues and values that I experience every day in this community. When those values of respect are violated, we must stand up and voice our condemnation.

It is time for transformative change. It starts right here; right now. It starts with each of us. We must acknowledge, learn, and grow. I had a different letter prepared to send this morning, one that addresses the larger societal issues that have been playing out nationally, and my thoughts and feelings about what I and what Miami could do to create positive change, and speaking directly from my heart to our students who I know are so deeply affected. But the time doesn’t seem right to send that today given this issue right in our own community. Some say leaders can’t take things too personally. In this case, I must. As your President. I am deeply disturbed, disheartened, and disappointed by bigoted and harmful speech reportedly directed toward our community members and our students.

For that, I am sorry to everyone who experienced this anguish yesterday. We heard your voices loud and clear.

Gregory P. Crawford