Our Statement of Community Values is a powerful document. It embodies the principles and ideals toward which we all strive. More than 107 years in development, these values have become a part of the fabric of the Mary Washington experience, and they are at the core of what contributes to that special, intangible feeling people get when they become a part of this university.
I write today to encourage the university community to continue efforts to uphold these values and to end sexual assault, violence against women, and other forms of discrimination and harassment that prevail in our society. There is no room at the University of Mary Washington for such behavior. Gone are the days of accepting the status quo and continuing inappropriate actions cloaked in the auspice of tradition or business as usual.
Achievement of excellence doesn’t come without struggle; and even at Mary Washington, we have moments of pause to reevaluate and assess our own actions and to support a higher level of accountability. Sadly, I am aware of recent situations in which our own students (groups and individuals) have engaged in behaviors that I find repugnant and highly offensive to members of our community. While I am disheartened by the poor choices of some, I am renewed with the fervor to take action to ensure accountability that will help to bring about change in our culture. I have worked directly with our administrative team to enforce our policies and, more importantly, to uphold our community values. While the outcomes may be painful for some, the message to all is clear: At UMW, we have a right and responsibility to take appropriate action to address unacceptable behaviors.
I believe it’s in these moments of struggle, even within our own family, that we are able to gain a greater clarity of our values and what we believe is important. As many of you are aware I have directed a task force to deal with many of these issues directly. I am pleased with the group’s progress and look forward to its recommendations. We will continue to systematically approach these issues and create processes that instill confidence and direction within our community.
Ultimately, though, much of this comes down to individual choices. I will continue to lead the way and encourage each member of the Mary Washington community to make a difference by standing up against injustice and to holding true to the values we believe are vital to a healthy community.
Richard V. Hurley