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Updates & Messages

Campus leaders regularly share news regarding steps Hamilton is taking to achieve a more equitable and inclusive community or reports of incidents that illustrate we still have work to do in standing up against intolerance. You’ll find those statements below.

Hatred and Brutality Have No Place in Our Community or Our Country, September 10, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Since students returned to campus for the fall semester, we have had two deplorable incidents of hateful slurs shouted from cars by non-Hamilton community members passing through our campus. These incidents were reported to Campus Safety and the local police, and in both instances, suspects were quickly identified and investigations are underway.

Racism and bigotry in all forms have no place on our campus, in our community, or in our country. The systemic racism that continues to manifest in violence against Black lives feels closer than ever, most recently with the unveiling of a video showing the March death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, N.Y., at the hands of police officers who pinned him to the ground with a hood over his head. Today, the City of Utica released a statement and a video showing that a Black man, Kerwin Taylor, was brutally beaten by a white officer while detained in the back of a police vehicle. The officer has been suspended without pay and the incident has been referred to the Oneida County District Attorney’s office for possible prosecution.

This incident may spark strong emotions with you as it did with me. Recognizing that gathering together can be helpful to many in our community, but that doing so is complicated during a pandemic, we will reach out to others across campus to discuss how to proceed. You will receive more information about a gathering shortly.


A Challenging Start, August 27, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

After an extraordinary summer of planning to reopen our campus safely, I am delighted with how smoothly the first couple days of the semester have gone, and I’m grateful to those who worked so hard to welcome our students back to College Hill for another year of intellectual exploration and personal growth.

Nevertheless, as I discussed in my Convocation remarks on Sunday, the optimism and anticipation that come with the start of a new year are tempered by two extraordinary challenges: systemic racism that continues to manifest in violence against Black lives, most recently with the shootings of Jacob Blake, Trayford Pellerin, and Julian Edwin Roosevelt Lewis, and the coronavirus pandemic that continues to take lives across the country and around the world. Many in our community have been touched directly by one or both of these challenges. Our Black colleagues and friends, in particular, feel the pain and fear of ongoing police shootings, and these incidents should remind all of us of the importance of the anti-racism work that is needed in the country and at the College. Black Lives Matter.

Earlier this summer, in light of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks, I noted that Hamilton would devote additional resources for diversity, equity, and inclusion and form an Advisory Council to host listening sessions and help us expedite a new equity and inclusion plan. All of this work is under way.

Just as we want to make Hamilton a safe place for students, faculty, and staff to study and work, despite the pandemic, we also want to make Hamilton a place where everyone feels safe, welcome, and included. Hamilton aims to prepare all students and graduates to change the world and make it a more just and equitable place.

Thank you, in advance, for being an active and committed participant in our efforts. The Advisory Council continues to welcome you to Be Heard, and the Dean of Students Office will soon be in touch about upcoming programming.


Toward a More Equitable and Inclusive Hamilton, August 3, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Many of you have written to me to offer your ideas, describe your experiences, and share your frustrations with the pace of change at Hamilton. I have carefully reviewed every message, many of which have been distressing to read. They all reinforce the urgency and importance of the task ahead of us, and the need to develop new strategies to ensure an equitable and inclusive community.

In response to feedback in June, a new Advisory Council was established to bring together a cross-section of the entire Hamilton community (students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, parents, and the Village of Clinton) to assist me and the administration of the College in assessing the effectiveness of existing equity and inclusion efforts. The Council will advise us as we expedite the development and implementation of a robust equity and inclusion plan. The Council has already begun to review College reports and other data on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, and will soon begin to conduct listening sessions to gather testimonials and feedback from members of our community. I encourage you to share your experiences and ideas with the Advisory Council by emailing Advisory-Council@hamilton.edu. The Advisory Council is meeting weekly and will report its progress on the Hamilton DEI website, which is in the process of being substantially revised.

At the same time, senior staff will continue to develop and review divisional goals and will also report progress on the DEI website. Working groups for the DEI strategic plan will meet and report regularly to Dean Martinez, with the goal of sharing a draft plan with focus groups this fall.

Even as we face the continuing challenge of COVID-19, Hamilton is committed to building a stronger and more inclusive community.


Response to Community Standards Violation, President Wippman, June 28, 2020

Dear Hamilton Community,

A Facebook video came to our attention this morning, showing someone who previously worked at the College as a contract employee of our food services provider making despicable racist slurs. I am appalled by what is on the video. He will not be employed here again and has been banned from our campus effective immediately. The behavior shown on the video is an extreme violation of our community standards and will not be tolerated. We will review our own and our contractors’ employee screening and training policies to be sure appropriate requirements are in place.

I will also reach out to the Utica resident who was the target of this individual's slurs. I want her to know that racism and bigotry of any kind will not be tolerated at Hamilton College.


Advisory Council, President Wippman, June 23, 2020

Dear Hamilton Community,

Last week I announced that the College would establish a new advisory council to help create a more equitable and inclusive campus community. I am gratified that so many of you have offered to help and want to encourage you to share your suggestions and recommendations with me and members of the council. We must act decisively to ensure that every member of our community feels valued and can thrive. That is a top priority for me and for the College.

The advisory council will begin by listening. Council members will benefit immensely from the perspective of individuals and groups who are willing to share their experiences and contribute ideas. At the same time, please remember that membership on this council is just one way to contribute to the process of change. We hope that you will stay involved by educating yourself and others on the movement against racism and discrimination, and by sharing your time and other resources when called to help.

I am grateful to the Hamiltonians who have agreed to serve on the council, recognizing that as we move forward, the membership of the council will evolve. I hope all members of our community will participate in this important undertaking.


Advisory Council Members
Steven Bellona, Mayor, Village of Clinton
Phyllis Breland ’80, Hamilton Director of Opportunity Programs, retired
Josie Collier ’97, P’14, Chair of the Alumni Council and President of the Alumni Association
Mark Fedorcik ’95, Trustee
Todd Franklin, Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies
Gill King P’16, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, ex officio
Maria Genao-Homs, Associate Dean of Students for Diversity and Inclusion
Amari Leigh ’21, Student
Terry Martinez, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President, Dean of Students
Nick Osarenren ’22, Student
Imad Qasim ’79, Trustee
Natalie Sanchez ’07, Chair of the Alumni Equity and Inclusion Committee
Lisa Trivedi, Professor of History
Caleb Williamson ’17, JD
David Wippman, President

Observing Juneteenth, June 19, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Today is Juneteenth, which commemorates the day African Americans enslaved in Texas 155 years ago learned of their freedom. Consistent with my message earlier this week, and in light of the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and many others, I encourage all members of our community to reflect on today’s significance and commit to taking action against racism and discrimination whenever and wherever we encounter it.

As outlined in my June 14 message to our community, the College is committed to taking its own actions against racism and discrimination. Next week, I will announce the members of the new Advisory Council that is being formed as part of that commitment. The Council and senior staff will welcome your feedback and ideas for building a community that fully embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion at Hamilton.


Hamilton’s Commitment to Racial Justice and Plans for Action, President Wippman, June 14, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Since my statement on May 30, I have heard your reactions to recent community posts. I have also heard your demands for the College to do more. I want to express my deep regret for the pain inflicted on an already hurting community. My initial communication and the two posts did not state unequivocally that Black Lives Matter, contained language many found insufficient or confusing and, most importantly, did not identify any action steps. I know that Hamilton must do better – and we will.

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and now Rayshard Brooks have highlighted yet again the nature and extent of systemic racism in our country. We know that these events have caused enormous pain, particularly for members of the Black community, and for the Black members of our community. We stand in solidarity with them, because Black Lives Matter.

We commit to developing collectively a comprehensive plan of action, beginning with the following three steps.

  1. Host listening sessions and form an Advisory Council to hold us accountable. Listening sessions with members of Student Assembly, the Black and Latinx Student Union, the ALANA Caucus (a group of faculty and staff of color), and alumni representatives, including members of the Equity and Inclusion Committee of Alumni Council, will enable us to engage collectively in a dialogue about the path forward. I will also form an Advisory Council, starting next week, to establish a formal feedback loop on an ongoing basis. We will begin with listening and follow with informed planning and urgent action. You have this commitment from me, from senior leadership, and from the Board of Trustees.
  2. Expedite a new equity and inclusion plan. Last summer we began a strategic planning process to enhance our equity and inclusion efforts and identified a set of institutional goals. We have made progress, but must do more. With input from the Advisory Council and others, we will build on those goals and publicly track our progress.
  3. Increase resources. From my discretionary fund, I am committing $200,000 per year for the next five years to increase funding of the College’s equity and inclusion initiatives, with a focus on how we can support Black and Latinx members of our community. The initiatives may include but will not be limited to expanded microaggression and implicit bias training for community members, additional resources for the development of inclusive pedagogies, and additional funding for the recruitment and retention of faculty, students, and staff of color.

In addition to this commitment of funds, a generous friend of the College has stepped forward to offer a $250,000 match for gifts made by June 30 that are directed to the College’s equity and inclusion initiatives or in support of scholarship aid through the Hamilton Fund. Gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar until we reach the $250,000 maximum.

The actions outlined above are initial steps, but we will develop a more complete action plan in the months ahead, and we will report back to the community on our progress in September. I am grateful to everyone who has spoken up with conviction, and believe that together we can make real progress toward a fully inclusive Hamilton.

Most sincerely,


Update from Chief Diversity Officer Terry Martinez, June 12, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

In recent weeks, as protesters gathered to mourn lives lost and condemn all forms of racism and oppression, particularly against Black citizens at the hands of police, the Hamilton community worked to exchange resources, recommit to change, and hold space to process the pain of these deaths. While students witness the impact on their own cities and neighborhoods, they also want to know what Hamilton is doing for racial justice and to support Black Lives Matter initiatives.

My focus as dean of students and chief diversity officer is to build a community where every student knows that they are safe, included, and respected. This cannot be accomplished without consistent effort from every member of faculty and staff, as well as students and their families. Last summer, I facilitated a discussion with the College’s senior staff to reaffirm Hamilton’s overarching diversity goals, which include:

Increasing recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented faculty, staff, and students

Fostering an inclusive climate

Developing culturally competent faculty, staff, and students

Since that time, we have:

Enhanced outreach to targeted markets to diversify our admission pool

Hired 16 new tenure-track faculty since 2018; 10 (62.5%) are women and eight (50%) are people of color (Overall, the tenure-line faculty is now 23% diverse and 47.2% women.)

Increased training for staff, students, and faculty members to guard against implicit bias (in interviewing, programming, teaching, and daily interactions)

Worked to remove financial barriers to achieve an equivalent educational experience inside and outside the classroom for all students

Piloted an initiative that trains student facilitators to develop skills in deep listening and engaging in deliberative conversations

Conversations around racism did not begin with recent events, and there is ongoing dialogue campuswide about how we can continue and deepen this work. Our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are how we put ideas into action, with facilitated training, policy review, and cross-campus collaborations to address these issues. Our senior staff retreat this summer will build on past efforts and lay out actions for the coming year.

I appreciate your support and engagement as we work toward a just and inclusive campus experience for all students, faculty, and staff.

Please take care of yourself and each other,

Terry Martinez
Chief Diversity Officer
Vice President and Dean of Students

Condemning Racism and Inequality, President Wippman, May 30, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

In recent days, I have watched with grief and dismay the news from my hometown, Minneapolis. Despite its progressive history and the civil rights advocacy of leaders like former vice presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, Minneapolis has continued to be plagued by racism and police violence. The video of George Floyd’s death is shocking, but, alas, also unsurprising, given the country’s failure to address systemic racism and inequality.

This failure has been vividly displayed in recent months, in a string of racially charged incidents. The ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has so disproportionately affected communities of color has also demonstrated the persistence and far-reaching nature of racial inequality in the United States.

Hamilton is not immune from the toxic effects of racism in America, and we have seen recent reminders of that in bigoted posts on the anonymous Jodel platform. While far different in degree from the events in Minneapolis and elsewhere, these posts violate the basic norms of decency and inclusion we seek to promote at Hamilton.

The pain of recent events falls disproportionately on some members of our community, and that is yet another legacy of inequality in our society. But it is incumbent on all of us to work toward creating more just, inclusive, and supportive communities, at Hamilton and in the broader society.

I hope you will all join me in condemning racism whenever you see it and share in the work needed to foster meaningful change.


Reports of Racist Incidents, President Wippman, March 6, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

We have received reports of three incidents that appear to be racist in nature. They include a post in a residence hall, a comment on an anonymous online app, and a remark made at a party. Each incident is being investigated.

Hamilton College is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment. Racism or any other form of bigotry directly contradicts our values as a community and the principles that we pledge to uphold, and will not be tolerated. Such incidents on campus impose particular burdens on faculty, students, and staff of color who must deal with assaults on their dignity and at the same time may be called upon disproportionately to support other members of the community.

I call upon each of us to stand up against intolerance and to think deeply about how we can play a role in creating an environment where all are valued and feel welcome.


Diversity and Inclusion at Hamilton, President Wippman, January 29, 2020

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

Hamilton’s senior staff met last summer to review the College’s diversity and inclusion efforts. We acknowledged the previous work done by many at the College, including the faculty hiring processes developed with Romney Associates. We also agreed that the importance of the work ahead requires renewed attention at the highest levels of the College. In her role as chief diversity officer, Vice President and Dean of Students Terry Martinez facilitated our discussion about how we can support Hamilton’s overarching diversity goals, which include:

  • Increasing recruitment of historically underrepresented faculty, staff, and students
  • Increasing retention of historically underrepresented faculty, staff, and students
  • Fostering an inclusive climate
  • Developing culturally competent faculty, staff, and students

Each vice president submitted plans for advancing these goals within their divisions. I am encouraged by each division’s efforts and am writing to share broad-based themes emerging from the progress made thus far. We are developing a website that will detail the work happening in each area and hope to have that in place by the end of the semester.

  • Recruiting individuals from historically underrepresented communities remains a central focus in each of the College’s divisions. Enhanced outreach to targeted markets plays a key role in diversifying our pool.
  • Increased training to guard against implicit bias (in interviewing, programming, teaching, and daily interactions) continues to develop and grow within each division
  • Reviewing, assessing, and enhancing our internal processes and protocols to eliminate bias is underway in each area, with a special focus on initiatives that bring differing perspectives together, and ensuring that all students have access to various opportunities and experiences
  • Removing financial barriers continues to be an important part of our efforts to ensure an equivalent educational experience inside and outside the classroom for all students.

Fostering a campus culture of diversity and inclusion takes care and ongoing attention. I’m grateful to all faculty, staff, and students who contribute formally and informally to ensuring Hamilton is a community in which all members can achieve their full intellectual, social, and moral capacities.


Every Hamilton voice deserves to be heard. Add to the conversation by sharing your thoughts, ideas, and feedback with Maria Genao-Homs, associate dean of diversity and inclusion.

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Days-Massolo Center

Through forums, panels, lectures, and other programming, the Days-Massolo Center serves as a hub for exploring intersections among gender, race, culture, religion, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic class, and other facets of human difference.

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