On October 9, a “hanging noose” was found on the office door of Dr. Madonna Constantine, a faculty member in counseling and clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Constantine, who is African American, teaches about multicultural counseling and does research on racism and professional psychology. This abhorrent incident is a harsh reminder of the persistence of prejudice and racism in our culture, and of the effort we must make together to confront such hate-based behavior and develop and implement strategies to promote positive change. Below is 1) a letter sent to Dr. Constantine by Antioch University New England’s President David Caruso on behalf of the faculty and staff at Antioch University New England and 2) a support resolution unanimously passed on October 17 by the Antioch University New England Faculty Senate.
1) Letter sent to Dr. Constantine by President Caruso on behalf of ANE Community
Dear Dr. Constantine:
Please accept the heartfelt sadness and support of the Antioch University New England community for you and the faculty, staff, and students in the Counseling and Clinical Psychology program at Teachers College. We offer our support to you as you deal with the difficult reactions you must be experiencing after the abhorrent racist hate incident, and also our support for the important work that you do related to multicultural counseling and racism in professional psychology. We deplore such hate-based behavior rooted in racism and pledge to redouble our efforts to contribute to the development of a just society free of prejudice, discrimination, and racism.
2) The Antioch University Faculty Senate Statement of Support for Dr. Madonna Constantine (Passed By A Unanimous Vote of the ANE Faculty Senate on October 17, 2007)
The Antioch University New England Faculty Senate stands in full support of Dr. Madonna Constantine and others at academic institutions who are being targeted for racist intimidation in overt or subtle ways. We believe that the core values of freedom, justice, mutual respect, and universal human rights—which should be at the heart of every academic institution—need to be defended. The struggle against white supremacy is not over. This was made clear to all of us last week by the ugly, racist act of someone putting a hanging noose on Dr. Madonna Constantine’s office door at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
While two of our faculty members have worked closely with Dr. Constantine in the past, making what happened to her a very personal concern for us as a faculty, such an act should sadden and anger all people even if we do not have a personal connection with the person or persons being targeted. The ANE Faculty Senate hopes our statement of support for Dr. Constantine will be but a small drop in a much larger wave of support from academic institutions and professional societies all across the country and world. We firmly believe that an injury to one is an injury to all.
We also believe that this is a teachable moment at academic institutions across the country, one that could allow for deepened discussion and insight into the dynamics of racism and other forms of oppression–as well as an opportunity for all of us to learn how to support each other, be better allies, and stand up for justice and decent treatment for all. We urge all our students and faculty to find ways—in our respective spheres of influence—to reach out and support Dr. Constantine and the understandably upset faculty and students at Teachers College, while also building an ever stronger community of racial solidarity and trust right here at Antioch University New England.
Finally, we want to thank Dr. Gargi Roysircar-Sodowsky and the students of the Support Group for Ethnic and Racial Diversity in ANE’s Clinical Psychology Department for taking leadership in raising the issue of this painful, racist incident at Columbia’s Teachers College for public dialog on our own campus. Their initiative has helped Antioch University New England keep our eyes on the prize of creating what Martin Luther King called the Beloved Community. As a faculty, we now rededicate ourselves to this vision.