ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A letter sent to new students at Concordia University in St. Paul is causing some controversy on social media.
The welcome letter was sent out by the dean of diversity affairs, Cheryl Chatman as an invitation to an orientation session for minority students.
A Minneapolis woman, who was supposed to attend Concordia this fall, shared her thoughts on Facebook and her post has been shared over 600 times,
Dr. Cheryl Chatman responded,
Each year Concordia University, St. Paul’s Diversity Affairs Office sends out a letter inviting new students of color to attend an event where they can connect with various resources that our office provides as well as a chance to get to know one another. This is similar to activities held at many universities throughout the country during welcome week. A portion of the letter we sent out inviting students to attend this event was recently posted to social media by a student who indicated she felt offended and alienated by the letter. Immediately after this post was drawn to our attention, we responded and I was able to have a phone call with the concerned student. It is unfortunate that the letter was not shared in its entirety as the rest of the message highlighted the caring nature of our office and our community.
This letter was sent to invite our first year students to attend Concordia’s students of color meeting. At this meeting various clubs, organizations, and the Diversity Affairs Office are present to meet and get to know our students, their stories, and to share the opportunities for leadership and participation that we have throughout our community. Due to the importance of the meeting we indicated that attendance is expected in the hopes of getting students to attend something that may change their entire college experience in the midst of our busy Welcome Weekend activities. In the past, those who missed the meeting indicated they were not made aware of the resources of our diversity affairs office or the opportunity to connect with others through our clubs and organizations. The meeting is intended to be a welcome to campus where people make lifelong connections. We know that attending college comes with a lot of new experiences that are hard to deal with on your own, this is why we strongly encourage our students to attend.
Clearly our excitement to ensure that our students realized the importance of this meeting may have been interpreted as required or mandatory instead of warm and welcoming. We can adjust this for the future. We want to ensure you know that we value our students and this was not intended to make anyone feel alienated but welcome, as a vital part of our community. We also want to share the full text of the letter of welcome so that you can read it in its entirety. We appreciate our community voicing their concerns and asking us questions, this is how we learn and how we grow. If you have any questions at all regarding Concordia University, St. Paul’s Diversity Affairs Office or its various initiatives, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Dr. Cheryl Chatman reached out to the woman’s post circulating on social media,