The following is an open letter to the Virginia Tech community.

To Virginia Tech students, faculty, staff and Hokies everywhere:

On March 14, 2015, Virginia Tech celebrated the 10th anniversary of our Principles of Community. That document, originally signed by Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors, President Charles W. Steger, the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student Government Association, Graduate Student Assembly, Alumni Association, and the university's Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity, signaled a milestone in Virginia Tech’s efforts to promote inclusion and diversity. Its message: the principles of equality, diversity, inclusion, and respect are not the work of special commissions and departments. They are an essential part of the fabric of our community. They are inherent in spirit of Ut Prosim.

They remain so today.

As we honor the 10th year of the Principles of Community, we also affirm that they are more than words in a historical document, they are a living commitment upon which we must constantly reflect. Our reaffirmation of the Principles of Community, adding the perspectives of gender identity and gender expression, shows our commitment to constantly evolving our understanding of, and respect for, both our differences and our common humanity.

The reaffirmation also heralded a new approach, lnclusiveVT, which provides a framework upon which we engage all our communities to advance inclusion and diversity. We will welcome "new" InclusiveVT initiatives each year, just as we welcome each new matriculating class. We will renew ourselves through active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with fresh voices, ideas, knowledge, and aspirations.

Developed under the leadership of Benjamin Dixon, the vice president for multicultural affairs, the Principles of Community were the result of many collaborative efforts, including the 2001 Diversity Strategic Plan, the 2003 Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity, and the 2004 "Working Document on Diversity.”

As we celebrate the Principles of Community, we should reflect not only on what we have done, but on what each of us, personally, will do to advance the spirit of community, inclusion, and diversity at our great university, this year and in the years to come.

Tim Sands

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