Image courtesy of Malak Abdel-Ghaffar.

Dean of Students Invites Students to “Call In” Instead of Calling Out

Following concerns over the nature of discourse on online student fora, Dean Farley sent out an email to the student community highlighting the importance of approaching accountability with compassion.

As NYU Abu Dhabi marks one year of campus life online, Kyle Farley, Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students, invited the community to reflect on the online spaces they have created.
In an email sent on April 14 to the student body, Farley touched upon the many challenges students have faced over the past year and emphasized the importance of togetherness in the healing process.
“Often, when we are individually hurting - and our world is hurting - we may begin to pull away from each other instead of leaning on each other for compassion and belonging. It has been said that for every hurt, community is the answer,” he wrote in his email.
Farley also highlighted the importance of online spaces in forging connections and experience as a community as well as reflected on accountability and support for marginalized groups. Farley explained that as a community, holding each other accountable for our online words should be a treasured task, even if it is uncomfortable.
“Holding others accountable for their actions and behavior in online fora can be done with care and compassion as opposed to disconnection. Our shared challenge is to find ways to call one another in, rather than out, as we work towards engaging more effectively with one another across our differences,” stated Farley in the email.
The Dean of Students expressed concern over the tone and nature of discourse on online student fora. Farley rejected collective isolation, shaming and bullying as forms of accountability, emphasizing the psychological damage and withdrawal they cause when community members are trying to engage in self-reflection and growth.
In conversation with The Gazelle, Dean Farley was reminded of a quote by Michael Eric Dyson that explored the pitfalls of cancel culture as a system that “wipes out the individual, but leaves the system standing.” Farley explained that the nature of NYUAD results in the intersection of many dominant and marginalized identities and the complications that arise from this. The dean was conscious of highlighting that “one person’s learning cannot happen at the expense of those who are oppressed” and that certain situations call for the removal of community members to promote healing.
“If a student with dominant identities who hasn’t previously grappled with their privilege makes a mistake on social media and dozens upon dozens of peers shun them immediately, even after they have apologized, they will recoil and never feel that they are part of the community again.” Farley explained further, calling for “compassionate accountability [that deals] with failure and harm in restorative ways, acknowledging that all individuals are shaped by their socialization within multiple systems of oppression and have the capacity to challenge these systems.”
Farley made it a point to remind students in the email that “discrimination, harassment, and cyberbullying run counter to our shared values and undercut the very purpose and mission of NYU Abu Dhabi” and invited them to join a conversation directed by Spiritual Life and Intercultural Education on May 17.
The workshop, titled “Calling In v. Calling Out,” will include a guest speaker and a skill building session to explore the distinctions between calling in and calling out.
Saman Hussain, Assistant Director of SLICE, explained that they hope the workshop will create a space that serves as a model for what calling in should be. The workshop will include role play and dialogue supported by the Sustained Dialogue Ambassadors.
“Calling someone in is usually done in private or offline,” shared Hussain. “And it includes naming or articulating the behavior that was offensive or hurtful, the impact that it had on the person on the receiving end, and an ask for different behavior moving forward –– and to do so with dialogue, compassion and context.”
She added that calling in can also mean taking a moment, or a breath, before responding, and can take emotional labor. “Calling in can facilitate dialogue and build community in what can be intractable and divisive issues,” Hussain said. “It can humanize instead of alienate people, who may otherwise become fearful of speaking up.”
Mari Velasquez-Soler is Senior News Editor. Email her at
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