The College of Arts & Sciences-Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (CAS-DEI) committee is charged, as per Section of the Governance Document of the College of Arts and Sciences, “to propose, develop, implement and promote DEI initiatives and action plans.” As per this charge, the Committee makes the following statement in response to the anti-LGBTQIA+ note left on the WGSS bulletin board in Donnarumma Hall on Oct. 18, 2023, acknowledges the injury caused by it to members of our College and University community, and addresses the climate of inhospitality that the note, unfortunately, reflects. 

CAS-DEI Committee members unanimously refute the contents of the note as contrary to the University’s Jesuit Mission and to its commitment to inclusivity and academic excellence. 

As a Catholic Jesuit University, as stated on Fairfield University’s website, we are committed to revering and celebrating the ‘human dignity of every person.’ Gender inclusivity, in particular, is highlighted on the university’s website as an important feature of the University’s commitment to fostering diversity, inclusion and belonging. Additionally, the page lists that we, as members of Fairfield University’s community, should strive to “model behavior that reflects a positive value and respect for gender as a non-binary construct.”

However, in practice we have a worrisome record which requires due attention and action. The University’s dismal ranking as the 14th most “LBGTQ-Unfriendly” college by Princeton Review echoes the sentiments of many queer students, staff, and faculty, one of whom remarked, “my queer identity is invisible on Fairfield’s campus and even, at times, feels like it is purposefully being erased.” October is LGBTQIA+ History Month and it has gone largely unacknowledged for the wider campus community as a whole. Whereas we believe in the value of a unified University ‘brand,’ as a source of common identity and marketing, we believe that such uniformity should never come at the cost of alienating the voices and identities of members of our community and contradicting the University’s stated commitment to supporting an “openness and desire to develop one’s own understanding of gender identity, sexual orientation and other differences.” 

The posting of the note on the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies’ bulletin board is an affront not only to the LGBTQIA+ community on campus but also to WGSS faculty and students. Both demonstrate commitment to the delivery and pursuit of academic excellence on a daily basis. They help us understand how “cultural assumptions about gender and sexuality influence the development of personal identity and public roles that consequently affect all social and political structures.” 

We are heartened that Dr. Don Sawyer, the VP of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, is actively working on university-wide response protocols to such bias-related incidents and we are encouraged by the ongoing work of offices such as Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. The CAS-DEI committee is also working to develop response protocols and to outline an action-plan to address issues of LGBTQIA+ student, faculty and staff alienation within the College; all of which we hope to report at a future CAS Faculty meeting. Faculty, students, or staff are invited to reach out to any CAS-DEI member listed below to share their thoughts, experiences and concerns.

We stand in love and solidarity with our LGBTQIA+ colleagues, staff members and students. Intolerance and alienation have no place at Fairfield University. 


CAS-DEI Committee:

Dr. Gwendoline Alphonso, Committee Co-Chair (Politics, faculty)

Dr. Jill Smith-Carpenter (Chemistry & Biochemistry, faculty)

Dr. Daniel Libatique (Classical Studies, faculty)

Dr. Elizabeth Hohl (History, faculty)

Dr. Rachel Robinson-Zetzer, Committee Co-Chair (English, faculty)

Dr. Zhanar Berikkyzy (Math, faculty)

Mr. Karl A. Uzcatequi (Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, staff)

Ms. Lori Jones (Quick Center for the Arts, staff)

Ms. Erika Sanchez ’24 (student)

Ms. Stephanie Suarez ‘26 (student)

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