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Being a Community of Care during Protests and Conflict

May 5, 2024

Above all, we respect one another and behave in ways that advance the free association of people and ideas. We cherish the diversity represented by our people and their disparate values and ideas. At the same time, we expect each student, faculty, or staff member to value and uphold the community standards essential to the pursuit of academic excellence and social responsibility. Pratt Institute takes the view that any action by one person that causes harm to another person will not be tolerated. Bullying, harassment, or any behavior that causes disruption to a community member’s ability to learn conflicts with the values of Pratt Institute and violates the community member’s right to feel protected, nurtured, and valued.

Dear Pratt Community,

The above statement from Pratt’s Community Standards is familiar to all of us. It is a promise we make to one another from the moment we cross Pratt’s threshold. It sets the values we agree to live by in our academic pursuits and our lives with one another as a community. It also calls us, at every moment, to ask ourselves whether we are living by our values fully and with equal care for everyone.

The events of this past Friday’s protest on campus and in the DeKalb Gallery, although supported by some community members, were equally disturbing and frightening to others. Certain words and phrases used—both chanted and displayed—have alarming and antisemitic associations. As senior administrators, we feel it is our responsibility to call our community to adhere to our established governing procedures, to denounce speech that is harmful or hateful, and to protect all of our community members equally. When our freedom of expression crosses into language and actions that are insensitive and unattuned to the nuances of historical context, or when our expression opens the door to incite violence toward each other, whether intentional or not, such actions are unacceptable.

This year, we have often spoken of the value of freedom of expression and academic freedom. Pratt continues to cherish both, noting the first is established by the Constitution and the second by the academic community to ensure the freedom to research, express, create, and publish work, and to discuss freely and responsibly.

Mindful of these commitments and their implications, we implore our community members to exercise their freedom and voice with intention and care. Be sensible in your language, actions, and behaviors, recognizing your potential to uplift or cause harm. Words possess immense power: they can inspire and also incite fear and violence. Therefore, we must choose expressions that honor both the letter and spirit of our Community Standards, and each other’s safety and well-being.

Aligned with our Community Standards are clear policies and procedures that we must collectively uphold. We created the Guidance for Public Gatherings (Demonstrations, Protests, Vigils) to ensure and protect the safety of all participants, regardless of differing viewpoints. Our Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX staff and our Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy provide every community member with ways to report, personally or anonymously, any violations or concerns about their safety so that they can be appropriately investigated and addressed. Our counseling and safety services provide various resources that prioritize the well-being of all community members. And, again, our Community Standards call us all to safeguard one another’s “right to feel protected, nurtured, and valued.”

As we move toward the end of this academic year, as we celebrate the accomplishments of our students, along with the commencement of our graduates with their families, we urge every member of our community—our students and all our faculty, staff, and leadership who direct and care for our community—to the highest level of responsibility for their actions and words, and to demonstrate care and consideration for one another as integral members of the Pratt community.


Frances Bronet

Donna Heiland

Stephanie Cook
Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Nicole Haas
Chief of Staff to the President

Joseph M. Hemway
Vice President for Information Technology and CIO

James J. Kempster
Vice President for Communications and Marketing

Cathleen Kenny
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Delmy M. Lendof
Vice President for Student Affairs

Rick Longo
Vice President for Enrollment Management

Jazmin A. Peralta
Interim Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Find more Pratt resources at Critical Conversations.