There is no better time than during Principles of Community Week, March 12-18, to affirm Virginia Tech’s commitment to access and inclusion for all members of the community. We take seriously the charge to create and nurture a welcoming, inclusive environment. Through conversation and engagement with others, we can learn to value the identity and individuality of each person around us.

The Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity recently recommended an addition to the University Statement on Non-Discrimination: to include “sex” alongside other statuses, thereby modeling the language used in federal law and executive orders at the federal and state level.

We recognize that the matter of identity is complex, and we recognize the inherent right that each person has to explore and establish a unique identity. One individual may identify as a person with a disability, while another identifies as differently abled. One person may share their country of origin and religious traditions, while another may not. With regard to sex and gender, we recognize that the terms gender identity, gender expression, and transgender are not synonymous with the terms sex identity, sex expression, and transsexual, nor is one set of terminology a subset of the other set.

We recognize—and celebrate—all of our differences. Indeed, these varied perspectives make us stronger together. Our willingness to unite on the basis of mutual respect and shared understanding will better prepare each of us to thrive in diverse, collaborative environments.

In every case, we must hold true to the Principles of Community. We acknowledge the power of engaging and building relationships with each other. By listening thoughtfully, we can better understand how members of the Virginia Tech community define themselves. In each college and department, InclusiveVT representatives stand ready to facilitate conversations and help promote a safe, welcoming, affirming, and accessible campus community.

We encourage you to learn more by attending the Principles of Community Week events. The week includes an alumni panel on the history of the Principles of Community, a conversation about the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community on campus, a theatre performance by Carlyle Brown, and other opportunities to build community. I look forward to engaging with you to learn more about our communities, their identities, and their experiences.

Menah Pratt-Clarke,
Vice President for Strategic Affairs
Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity