CHICAGO – Governor Bruce Rauner today released an open letter to school districts and higher learning institutions on opportunities to address acts of discrimination and bigotry in academic environments. The letter, sent through the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), urges educational institutions to develop proactive strategies aimed at preventing acts of hate before they occur.
“Acts of bigotry and hate have no place in our society. All of us need to come together and take the necessary measures to ensure that our schools, colleges, and universities are safe and welcoming environments for students,” said Governor Rauner. “Our administration stands strongly with educational institutions across Illinois as they expand opportunities to prevent these acts.”
In addition to suggested preventative measures for educational institutions, the Rauner Administration is pledging that IDHR, in partnership with the State Board of Education, the Illinois Community College Board, and the State Board of Higher Education, will investigate any and all reports of discriminatory acts occurring in academic settings.
“Illinois has long been a leader in challenging discrimination and ensuring that hateful, unlawful actions are not tolerated,” said IDHR Acting Director Janice Glenn. “We are committed to assisting administrators, educators, and students in setting a strong example for our communities by condemning discriminatory acts.”
Administration officials recommend that institutions establish and implement sound and consistent policies that address discrimination and promote equal opportunity. Preventative strategies could include consistent review and dissemination of bullying, harassment, and anti-discriminatory policies, training on recognizing and acting on the signs of students being victims of discrimination, ensuring clear lines of communication, being aware of actions that could occur outside of institutional settings, and developing programs to promote cultural understanding.
“Through an ongoing collaboration, we intend to continue engagement with educational leaders and stakeholders on how to promote welcoming and supportive learning spaces throughout the state,” said Secretary of Education Beth Purvis. “Continued success in identifying best practices requires open lines of communication between state agencies and educational institutions.