Improving Our Campus Climate


Improving Our Campus Climate | Listen, Learn, Respect

SUNY Plattsburgh is focused on building up a campus environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all, and which celebrates the diverse experiences and perspectives of all members.

On February 14, 2018, our campus community was confronted by an offensive, racist image on social media channels. The image was originally posted on Snapchat to a private group in January and included a vile message. The incident sparked demonstrations on campus, as well as in-depth and ongoing discussions among campus community members regarding racism, the Student Code of Conduct and diversity programs.

Through this time, we have been made more aware of the complex challenges facing many members of a campus community and we now see that we must do better. We are committing ourselves to making ‘better’ happen. 

Steps Forward

During the week of Feb 19, President John Ettling met with the Student Association Executive Committee to outline tangible, measurable and immediate steps to improve the campus climate and collective expectations. These steps are the starting point.

Updates and supporting documents for each will be added as needed. President Ettling pledged campus leadership will:


Establish a bias response-and-referral process that will address bias incidents.

We are finalizing membership of a committee that will work to draft approaches to a bias response-and-referral process on this campus. The group will gather information and potentially host leaders from other campuses as it examines what may work best here. It will engage other campus stakeholders and make a recommendation to the president.

  • Responsible Party: President Ettling. Fall 2018

Enhance the effort to improve the diversity of faculty and professionals. We will review our practices and report annually on our progress.

A meeting is set for March 23 to begin work on this initiative. We are researching our practices and what reports are currently available. As information becomes available, including an annual report, it will be shared with all faculty, staff and students.

  • Responsible Parties: Deans, Affirmative Action Officer Ames, Assistant Vice President Welch. First Report: December 2018

Implement mandatory, face-to-face training for all employees on diversity and inclusion.

Learning outcomes are being compiled to clearly articulate the goals of these trainings. Vice presidents will work to identify external consultants/trainers who can meet the identified goals.

  • Responsible Party: All vice presidents. Fall 2018

Engage students and legal counsel in a comprehensive review of our Student Code of Conduct.

A team has been formed and is meeting. Membership includes representatives from the Student Association, University Police, Residence Life, conduct board members, Educational Opportunity Program, Faculty Senate, and the SUNY Office of General Counsel. Along with reviewing examples from other institutions applicable to the concerns that have been raised about our code, the group will also dig into our current manual and seek guidance on sections to change. Draft proposed changes will be shared here and sent to SUNY legal counsel for review. Open sessions for campus and requests to be on Student Association Executive Council and Senate agendas and Faculty Senate agenda will be held as well. Goal is for changes to be presented to the College Council at their public meeting on April 16.

  • Responsible Party: Vice President Hartman. April 2018

Request the Faculty Senate to charge the General Education Committee to institute a mandatory diversity requirement for all students.

The provost sent a letter to the chairperson of the Faculty Senate on Feb. 22 "requesting that the Faculty Senate charge the General Education Committee with instituting a mandatory diversity requirement for all students." A response was received the same day. The General Education Committee met on March 9 to begin discussion about this initiative.

  • Responsible Party: Provost Morgan. March 2018

Form a Social Justice Task Force, consisting of students, faculty, alumni, staff and community members.

The task force is being put together now. It is charged with helping the president and leadership better understand matters of social justice on and the climate of this campus, ensuring all voices are heard. The work will be ongoing and inform further action steps the college should undertake and/or what other factors should be considered. External facilitators may also be engaged. The committee will send its initial report to the president.

  • Responsible Party: President Ettling. March 2018

Send a letter to the SUNY Board of Trustees advocating for a change in the Display of the Flag Policy to support raising the Black Lives Matter flag and other flags that are representative of our student body.

All related documents have been collected to appropriately reference within a letter, such as SUNY policies. Letter will be drafted.

  • Responsible Party: Vice President Hartman. March 2018

Create a Multi-Cultural Unity Space in the Angell College Center.

A Multicultural Unity Space is under development. Space on the first floor of Angell College Center will be created following the move of EOP and SSS to Macomb, which is scheduled for summer 2018. Student focus groups will be engaged during the spring semester regarding program needs for the space. A business meeting is scheduled for mid-March to outline the timeline and action items to ensure the renovated space is completed by December 2018.

  • Responsible Party: Vice Presidents Hartman and Larochelle. December 2018

Increase University Police presence to ensure the safety of our campus community.

University Police have modified their shifts to increase number of officers on campus since mid-February. UP has continued to make staffing adjustments based on needs of the campus. They will reduce to normal shifts when it is deemed appropriate.

  • Responsible Party: Vice President Hartman. Ongoing

Enlist regional leaders in discussion to address racism in our surrounding communities.

The president and others in leadership have visited with local government and business leaders. Conversations continue with the goal of developing frameworks to best engage with the campus community and venues for such broader discussions and understanding.

  • Responsible Party: President Ettling. Ongoing

Contact Information

For questions, contact the Office of the President