Dean of Students Robert Dana’s Aug. 29 statement concerning off-campus banners
University of Maine Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Robert Dana provided the following statement Aug. 29 to detail the steps UMaine took beginning Friday, Aug. 25 when inappropriate banners at off-campus properties in Orono were first reported:
Thank you for writing to express your concerns over the objectionable banners that were attached to local dwellings last Friday. I am writing to confirm our stance on this issue and to assure all that we are responding vigorously to the banners and those who raised them.
The banners have violated our norms of decency and they have offended, in every way, our sense of justice and equity. They have created an unwelcoming and unsafe environment. These expressions are completely at odds with who we are and what we are as a community. Incivility and sexism violate all of us and our core of decency, inclusivity and openness. Plain and simple, our commitment to each other as members of a caring community is central to what makes this a wonderful place to live and learn. No member of this community will be marginalized. It is essential that all people are dignified, respected and supported, and these banners certainly did none of that. The bottom line at the University of Maine is that discrimination of any sort is not tolerated and President Susan Hunter has written to our campus community reaffirming our values.
While I can’t give all the details of our response, what has happened to this point includes the following:
- When I heard about these signs Friday, I went to the houses with our police chief and asked that they be removed. Orono police also responded around the same time. The signs were either immediately removed or removed a short time later. The tenants or those who owned the sign talked to Orono police officials and were referred to our Conduct Office which will address the issue and levy sanctions as appropriate.
- Over the weekend, I corresponded with some of the involved students after they reached out to me.
- On Monday, I received a letter from one of the landlords and then spoke to that person. The landlords of one of the houses met with me today. We are in the process of identifying the other landlord.
- Also on Monday, three of the involved tenants met with me and then separately with Elizabeth LaVoie, our deputy Title lX coordinator and coordinator of our Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence program; and David Fiacco, our director of community standards. The tenant and sign owner from one of the apartments were directed to come to the Conduct Office, and that is being scheduled, though the sign owner is not currently a UMaine student. They also will meet with Elizabeth LaVoie.
I am very disappointed that any of our students would engage in such defeating and sexist behaviors, and I assure you we are taking it very seriously. We will continue to work toward making this community welcoming and inclusive for all.
Robert Q. Dana
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
University of Maine