Thursday, April 1, 2021

Dear BVU Community:

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our nation has seen a surge of hate crimes, bias incidents, and racist bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), who had already faced discrimination in our country for centuries. Buena Vista University stands against discrimination and hate against all people, and we stand in solidarity with Asian American students, international students from Asia, Pacific Islanders, and the Pan Asian community of Storm Lake and beyond who continue to experience fear and intimidation. We will do everything in our power to make their safety and security a priority. We will continue our work to eliminate racism on our campus, community, and state.

We recognize the pain, fear, and anger many within the BVU community are experiencing right now as well. The BVU Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), within the Division of Student Success, stands firmly in our vision to develop an environment that promotes cultural sensitivity, humility, and understanding which provides all students with the opportunity to celebrate diversity and self-identity. We must continue to develop a more robust understanding of structural racism and its impact on individuals, families, and communities, and show our commitment to its eradication through our actions.

To all our students, staff, faculty, and AAPI community members and other community members of color, we stand with you and with all who stand against racism, “othering,” xenophobia, and all forms of injustice. We look forward to continued CDI programming to support these needs, and we will do whatever we can to provide an inclusive, safe, and supportive environment for our students and campus community.

Moving forward, we offer the following support and resources:

Our Diversity Fellows are here to offer support and advocacy for our students and campus community. They are trained faculty and staff that have been through a year-long educational program committed to diversity and inclusion practices.

Along with the Diversity Fellows, additional resources include but are not limited to:

  • Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion — Dr. Joel Berrien, Jr. –
  • Interim Vice President for Student Success – Dr. Nicholas Piccolo –
  • University Chaplain – Dr. Melanie Hauser –
  • Director of Campus Security – Jessica Garling –
  • Assistant Human Resources Director/ Title IX Coordinator  — Casey James-Negrete -
  • Academic Advisors – individually assigned
  • Center for Academic Excellence - 712.749.1237 —

In the coming months, the Division of Student Success staff, along with the Diversity Fellows and other constituent groups, will be developing ongoing programs, policies, and practices devoted to creating safe spaces for difficult conversations, educational programs to address intolerance and advocacy for civility and equity. BVU upholds our values of respect and inclusiveness where we foster an appreciation for all persons by providing an open and inclusive environment where all are treated with respect.

We want you to know that your BVU family is thinking of you. Beyond the surge of hate crimes, bias incidents, and racist bullying, the world is battling a pandemic. We know these circumstances and more affect you all, and you may be experiencing a mix of emotions that change daily. Along with the resources noted above, we’ve established the Student Support webpage for more information on items like BVU Counseling Services, the CARES Act, and more.

BVU stands united by our mission and vision. We are inspired by our obligation to educate our students through service while making a positive difference in the lives of others.

With the utmost sincerity,

Joel Berrien, Jr., Ed.D.
Senior Director of Diversity and Inclusion