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A Message from the Council for Equity and Community

“I can’t breathe.” George Floyd died with a white police officer’s knee pressing on his neck, becoming one of a too-long list of Black men, women and children killed by racism, both systemic and specific. Some of their names - Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor - are publicly known; untold others are mourned in private. These events are in the news, but they are not new.


To Lehigh’s Black community, who are hurt, angry, scared, fed up - the Council for Equity and Community stands with you. We hear you. You matter. Black Lives Matter. 


We condemn systemic racism, and the egregious racist incidents against Black individuals and communities. In our role as an advisory body to Lehigh’s Vice President for Equity and Community, we take our charge seriously: to listen, to be a conduit for turning what Lehigh’s marginalized and underrepresented communities are asking, saying and experiencing into action and structural change.


“We” our body and our individual members are personally committed to diversity, equity and inclusion - yet we acknowledge also our collective failures to provide our Black community with all they need. We stand in solidarity with you now to listen, learn, educate and transform.


All are invited to a virtual forum in early July co-sponsored by the CEC with Lehigh’s Office of Multicultural Affairs for a frank conversation on these issues. We invite participation from Lehigh students, staff and faculty. Please stay tuned for details.


Issues we are paying attention to include transparency in policing, implicit bias training and awareness, and retention and support for students, faculty and staff of color. We support and are eager to engage with the work of Lehigh’s new task force charged with comprehensively reviewing university policies and procedures to ensure they are anti-racist.


We welcome additional ideas and resources to continue these efforts. Here are a few:



We want to hear from you; contact us at:


This will be an ongoing conversation. Lehigh is not immune to the racism that permeates our society: Black students, faculty and staff experience microaggressions and racist incidents and feel unsupported and misrepresented. While institutions of higher education often see themselves as champions for change, they are part of the problem when they inadequately address these issues and needs. Lehigh has made committed efforts - but it’s not enough. We are called not just to respond, to improve, to better - but to lead, to solve. Please join us. 


In solidarity,

Lehigh University Council for Equity and Community (CEC)


About the CEC:

The Council for Equity and Community (CEC) is an independent advisory board composed of Lehigh staff, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students committed to serving as a campus resource in the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion. We encourage constructive dialogue and work toward building a stronger campus community for all.



Clara Buie

David Caruso

Arleene Castillo

Lovely Charles

Liang Cheng

Chenchen Dai

Kathleen Dugan

Stephanie Fisher

Mary Foltz

Taryn Gall

Ricardo Hall

Chris Halladay

James Hamill

Justin Jaworski

Sara Kangas

Mary Ellen Kitchen

Hillary Kwiatek

Marci Levine

Khanjan Mehta

Katherine Melo

Steve Nathan

Princess Neely

Kelly Nguyen

Courteney Parry

Marina Puzakova  

Karen Salvemini

Jason Schiffer

Ashley Sciora

Amy White

Maria Zullo


Message from the CEC


Juggling remote working and learning with life’s many (and perhaps new) responsibilities in our current reality may be causing increased stress and anxiety; the lines between school/work and other parts of our lives are blurred. The Council for Equity and Community hopes that during this challenging time, you are finding support and connections and utilizing the many helpful tips, tools and resources available for faculty, staff, and students to aid in this transition to online work, teaching and learning. 

The responsibility of fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion at Lehigh University carries on even while we are not together on campus. Strategies for productive and inclusive face-face meetings still apply to online meetings, and may be even more critical for your remote interactions.  We encourage each of you to continue to embrace the Principles of Our Equitable Community while planning and conducting your remote meetings and events and to integrate the VISIONS Guidelines for Effective Dialogue into these conversations. 

To compliment the LTS guides for using online teaching, learning and meeting tools (e.g. Zoom) effectively and securely, the inclusive meeting practices we have provided in this document will help you ensure your online meetings are successful for all participants. 

The CEC hopes you, your families and friends are well; we look forward to the time when we are back together on campus.  





Friday 3/29 - Tackling Tough Topics Together “Breaking Down Invisible Walls”

Have you ever made assumptions about someone based on their language, accent, or skin color? Ever had beliefs or experiences ascribed to you because of your race, ethnic origin, or national identity?

Join us on Friday, March 29, from noon-1 p.m. for a Tackling Tough Topics Together dialogue on “Breaking Down Invisible Walls,” exploring the impacts of these perceptions, questions, and behaviors.

Friends’ or strangers’ uninformed questions can make people feel they don’t belong, Lehigh student David Owolabi shared in a recent opinion piece in The Brown and White. Systems of oppression and exclusion create an “inferior other,” Lehigh sociologist Sirry Alang writes in a recent essay. In her TED Talk, novelist Chimamanda Adichie talks about “the danger of a single story” - that in only “knowing” a single story about another person or country we risk critical misunderstanding.

Come together to talk about assumptions, misunderstandings, stereotypes, intentions, and impacts as you’ve experienced them and so we can learn from each other.

Lunch is provided. All are welcome. The dialogue will take place in the Linderman Library Bayer Galleria, Room 342.

If you are an individual with a disability and need accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact Maria Zullo at or (610) 758-4152.

We look forward to seeing you!

Brought to you by the Council for Equity and Community (CEC) Education and Dialogue Working Group.

International Women's Day

Celebrating Black History Month

 Photo Credit: Enokson

We celebrate the contributions of African Americans to the culture and history of the American Society. We recognize their achievements and the vital role that African Americans make to the development of civil rights and equal opportunity. 

Black History Month began as the celebration of Negro History Week for a week in February 1926 which was proposed by Carter G. Woodson. The celebration was expanded to a month and recognized by President Gerald Ford in1976 during the nation’s bicentennial. Black History Month is also celebrated in Canada in February, and in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland in October.

This month, the CEC urges you to join us in the celebration of the rich cultural and social contributions, both past and present, of the African Americans to the American society.

Friday 2/8 - #MeToo: Anita Hill and Beyond

Anita Hill sparked a national conversation 26 years ago when she testified at the Supreme Court confirmation for Clarence Thomas about the sexual harassment she experienced in the workplace. On Feb. 7, she will speak at Lehigh about the events before, during, and after those hearings, which brought her unwanted fame, decades before the #MeToo Movement.

Join us on Friday, Feb. 8, from noon-1 p.m. for a Tackling Tough Topics Together dialogue about #MeToo, exploring intersecting roles of gender, race, class and sexual orientation in events such as Anita Hill’s testimony. More recent accusation of sexual assault are present in the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary; and firing of “Bohemian Rhapsody” director Bryan Singer.

Are their commonalities or distinctions? What are the impacts?

The dialogue will take place in the Linderman Library Bayer Galleria, Room 342. Lunch is provided. All are welcome.

If you are an individual with a disability and need accommodations in order to participate in this event, please contact Maria Zullo at or (610) 758-4152.

GVES, the Advocates, BTS peer educators, and the CGE will host a safe space for survivors of gender based harassment and violence to process and debrief Anita Hill's talk and experiences from 2 to 3PM at UC 306 following the Tackling Tough Topics Together session.

We look forward to seeing you!

Brought to you by the Council for Equity and Community (CEC) Education and Dialogue Working Group, Office of Gender Violence Education and Support(GVES), and the Center for Gender Equity (CGE).


Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Photo by: Gloria Holt

We celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He stood for equality for all people and dedicated his life to the fight against discrimination. His sacrifice paved the way for many others to achieve their dreams.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law by President Ronald Regan in 1983 and the first MLK day was celebrated in 1986. The holiday falls on the third monday in January so that it coincides with Dr. King's birthday which is January 15, 1929 and he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. This year, MLK day was celebrated on January 21, 2019 and this also marks the 51st anniversary of his assassination.

This month, the CEC urges you to commemorate and reflect on the life and sacrifice of Dr. King.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Tackling Tough Topics Together To Go

Lift the Mask- Portraits of Life with Mental Illness

Lift the Mask is an event organized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)- Lehigh On-Campus Chapter. Lift the Mask- Portraits of Life with Mental Illness tells the often harrowing, sometimes hopeful stories of six individuals living with behavioral and mental health diagnoses. From the onset of symptoms and the quest for a diagnosis, to managing the subsequent treatments and medications, the film’s subjects frankly discuss the most difficult and traumatic moments of their journeys. These six people of very different backgrounds navigate social stigmas, suicide; a cause of death alarmingly on the rise in the U.S., and incarceration; a common but overlooked outcome of mental illness. The film finds both devastation and hope as these characters struggle with some of the most debilitating and misunderstood of illnesses.

The Council for Equity and Community provided support for this event because it speaks to creating a culture of understanding that situates mental health as an integral part of the holistic wellbeing of every member of our campus community.

Dining In the Dark

Dining in the Dark is an event the Yemaya Chapter of Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Incorporated, host yearly to bring awareness and educate the Lehigh community on visual impairment and the resources available both at Lehigh to college students, in the Bethlehem community, and the technological accessibilities to help people.

The event includes a delicious dinner where the participants must eat, pour themselves a glass of water and communicate with those around while being blindfolded. The Office of Disability Services, Our Eyes Have Paws, and Lehigh Valley Council of the Blind were invited to interact with participants throughout the evening by eating alongside them. The target audience was both students and staff.

In line with our mission for inclusive excellence, the Council for Equity and Community provided funding and support for this event. The CEC and the event organizers hope that this event not only encourages more conversations about disabilities as a whole but also teaches members of the Lehigh community on ways we can make an effort to be more respectful and cognizant of the challenges that people who live with disabilities are going through.


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