Staff in the BSU International Program Center have been meeting with many of our Muslim students who are increasingly becoming targets of disparaging comments from other students and from members of the Bemidji community. The frequency and intensity of those comments seem to be increasing, especially over the past few weeks.
As a result, we have spoken with students who are upset, in tears, and afraid to go into the local community.
This is unacceptable. In my opinion it reflects:
1. a deep misunderstanding of religious beliefs held by devout Muslims
2. an inability of some to separate the beliefs and actions of a few from the beliefs and actions of the many
3. an inability of some to separate political rhetoric from reality
This is a very sensitive issue, but I am asking that you be alert to any kind of disparaging comments that may be targeted at ANY student, but especially those of the Islamic faith at this particular time in our history. Such incidents certainly provide an opportunity to engage in additional education and understanding during a teachable moment.
Also, you may want to look at the link below as an example of how one institution is reaffirming its commitment to religious tolerance.
As a public university and college, we welcome people of all faiths and nationalities, and each of us should be leaders in the community in promoting tolerance and understanding.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Martin Tadlock, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Bemidji State University
1500 Birchmont Dr. NE #3
Bemidji, MN 56601
Office: (218) 755 2015; Skype: martin.tadlock
Google number: (218) 308-7711; Google number international: +01 (218) 308-7711
Academic Core Values
Creative and critical thinking
Living democratic principles
Inclusion of students, staff, faculty, and administrators in all aspects of university life
Interactive, relevant, and engaging teaching and learning environments