Responding to Current Events
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
Recent local, national, and international events have provoked anger, fear, and, in some, despair. We are all affected by these events, individually and as a community. I write today to ask that we find ways to work together to respond constructively to our feelings of anger, to take steps that will assuage our fears, to work together in a way that will engender hope for constructive change.
We need to listen to one another, to take seriously the unique histories that shape and inform varied perspectives. We need to acknowledge, respect, and constructively negotiate our differences, as we work together to develop solutions to our problems--the problems of our world and our campus.
The University’s dedication to higher ideals does not guarantee immunity from the infection of pervasive social problems, including the problems of persistent racism and religious and ethnic intolerance. The University’s dedication to higher ideals does, however, entail an obligation to address these problems, openly, respectfully, and together.
Throughout the past couple of weeks, a number of groups have held useful conversations and organized informative meetings, have tried to rally support for productive action and progress on the problems that confront us. Individuals in our University community have spoken with passion and sorrow about the slights, indignities, and threats they have suffered in our community, on our campus. We must reflect seriously on this testimony, and we must commit ourselves to building a better, more inclusive community.
As we continue through the remainder of this academic year, I call to your attention a variety of events relevant to these issues. I also invite you to submit your own ideas to our Campus Climate website.
Two events may be of immediate interest:
- On Thursday, November 19, student members of the Cultural Community Collective, Commuter Connections, BeGreek community, and student neighborhood liaisons will host a conversation called "From Mizzou to Minnesota: Dialogue to Action." Supported by the Office for Student Engagement and the Office for Student Affairs, this event is designed to provide students with a space and forum for expression and dialogue about the current landscape of diversity and about issues of inclusion and exclusion, both national and local.
- On Friday, November 20, the Office for Equity and Diversity will host a panel discussion titled "Limiting Liberty: The Recurring Collision of Free Speech and Religion." This event will examine the rights and limitations of free speech, and the rights and limitations connected with the practice of personal beliefs. The panel will include scholars, staff, and community members representing a range of perspectives.
Whether or not you attend these events, or participate in these meetings, thank you all for your attention to the issues of campus climate. We all want the world to be a better place, and we can certainly work together to improve this part of the world, the University to which we all belong.
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
This message was sent by Provost Hanson to all Twin Cities students, faculty, and staff on Nov. 18, 2015.