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Letter from Jim Yong Kim

'I hope we can all learn from this incident'

March 6, 2009
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Dartmouth President-elect Jim Yong Kim responds to the e-mail sent Tuesday that referred to him as a ''Chinaman'' and warned the campus to prepare for ''Asianification.'' The message was part of the morning edition of the Generic Good Morning Message, a student-written and edited tongue-in-cheek compilation of each day's news.

Dear Fellow Members of the Dartmouth Family,

Let me first thank you again for the overwhelmingly warm reception you gave to me on Monday. I was thrilled to be with you for the first time and I can't tell you how excited and honored I am to be your next President. Since Monday, I have been deluged with welcoming notes from people throughout the Dartmouth family.

I am truly touched by the warmth of this community, and I can't wait to get started in July. This past week was indeed one of the most wonderful of my life.

I write to you today, though, because I have received a number of questions about an unfortunate e-mail sent by a student on Tuesday. After some reflection, I have three main concerns that I would like to share with all of you.

First, I'm concerned that people outside our community will not understand the tremendous work Dartmouth has done to build a diverse and inclusive campus that cherishes free speech, but also nurtures mutual respect and civility. President Jim Wright and the entire Dartmouth family have worked tirelessly to foster an open, engaged community that has dealt effectively with issues of racism, sexism and other forms of bias. We'll debate the issues as directly as any campus in America, but always with tolerance and respect for one another. We need to make sure that the world understands that Dartmouth, which is approximately 40 percent students of color and international students, welcomes everyone.

I am also concerned about the Asian, Asian-American and many other students who have been upset by this incident. I know that many meetings and conversations have taken place to discuss it. I understand your pain, and my sincere hope is that this incident will lead to better understanding and greater compassion for the experience of our entire community.

Finally, I want to ensure that the student who wrote the e-mail understands the enriching role that people of diverse backgrounds will play in his life. But I also don't want this lapse in judgment to limit his prospects for the future.

Dartmouth students are very talented, but we all make mistakes - especially when we are young.

I wasn't expecting to be addressing all of you again so soon, but I hope we can all learn from this incident and grow even closer as a community.

Warmly,

Jim Yong Kim

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