While University of Denver Jeremy Chancellor Haefner has yet to commit to keeping the Pioneer name, he has asked for “the [DU] community’s patience” to prepare his response to a small group of protesters who are demanding that DU get rid of the Pioneer nickname by February of 2021.
In a “letter” sent only to selected DU community members and later released (but not publicized anywhere) last Friday afternoon on the Columbus Day Holiday weekend, Haefner asked “for the community’s patience as I continue to work with leaders across the institution to develop specific and measurable action steps, assign responsibility, and create implementation timelines.”Chancellor Haefner’s letter is reprinted in full, below:
Dear DU community members,
Two weeks ago, the student group Righteous Anger. Healing Resistance. (RAHR) held a peaceful protest, which included seven demands. These demands were affirmed through a resolution by DU’s Undergraduate Student Government (USG). The significance of RAHR’s demands and USG’s resolution is, most fundamentally, to combat entrenched systems of racism wherever they may exist, to reckon with our complex history with indigenous peoples and their land, and to provide greater opportunities for all persons of color to thrive on our campus.
I want to state unequivocally that DU takes these demands seriously and that we remain fervently committed not just to diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also to combat racism in all its malicious forms.
I am eager to share DU’s response to these demands with the community, but I also want to ensure that our response is guided by action and commitments, not just promises. As such, I ask for the community’s patience as I continue to work with leaders across the institution to develop specific and measurable action steps, assign responsibility, and create implementation timelines.
It would be more expedient to make promises today, but the DU community—and especially our students—deserve more. It is only through concrete action that we can move forward.
Thank you to all who are working diligently to make DU a welcoming place where all of us can find belonging and thrive.
Here are RAHR’s seven ‘demands’, taken from its recent poster:
We’re concerned not only that the “letter” was only sent to select members of the community and released in as quiet a manner as possible (there were no social media posts attached to the release on Twitter or Facebook – a red flag for any official release or letter) but also that the language in the Chancellor’s letter may be telegraphing DU’s ultimate intentions. It is important to remain concerned, vigilant, and committed to the Pioneer nickname, as our school has, once again, yet to make such a commitment official.