Message from Dean Hunter on combating racism

November 20, 2015

Dear Members of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Community:

The events yesterday at Harvard Law School are a forceful reminder of how much work we as a University and as a society still need to do to combat racism and other forms of hate and exclusion in our world. I was outraged to learn that the photos of black faculty at HLS were defaced. As HLS Dean Martha Minow said in her message to the law school community yesterday, “Expressions of hatred are abhorrent, whether they be directed at race, sex, sexual preference, gender identity, religion, or any other targets of bigotry.”

It is particularly poignant for me to be writing this message the day after our own community expressed its solidarity with our values of diversity and inclusion in so many ways. These included the BlackOut protest vigil in the Kresge courtyard attended by students, faculty and staff; the unfurling of three new flags in the Huntington Avenue entrance to our building representing our commitment to respect and celebrate all members of our community regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity; and the Discrimination Monologues event in the evening at which many in our community spoke powerfully about their personal experiences with discrimination. The openness, courage, and respect for others expressed at these events and at other events during this week’s Different Lenses, One Vision (dLOV) conference made me proud to be a member of our community.

I know that we must do much more to address racism and other forms of discrimination and their effects on people’s lives and health, both here in our Harvard Chan community and in the wider world. There is no room at this University or in our society for hate and intolerance. There is no room for discrimination that can lead to everything from biased behavior by the police to substandard health care. Such acts are intolerable, and I am committed to working with all of you, with my fellow deans and President Drew Faust to actively dismantle racism and other forms of bias in our community and our world. I welcome the opportunity to talk more about what we as the Harvard Chan School community can do to move forward these values we share.

David Hunter, MBBS, MPH, ScD
Acting Dean
Dean for Academic Affairs