Over the last school year, we’ve been challenged a few times by people seeking to divide us and disrupt our campus. It is ever more important for all of us at UCCS to let the world know that we all are one community and we support and stand by one another when negative forces try to create conflict among us.
I’ve spoken to many of you individually and in groups about fostering an environment of respect, compassion, safety and excellence that makes this a welcoming place to live, learn and work. We encourage spirited debate and work to facilitate the exchange of ideas.
Many of the negative forces spreading their messages do so with an agenda. They aren’t interested in a respectful exchange of ideas. They want to create controversy, and use the attention that it generates to extend their message of division. They are instigators. I’ll comment when misinformation is widely reported and when we need to set the record straight. But I will not become a willing part of their plan to spread their message by issuing a statement every time this occurs.
I encourage each of us to think about how we respond in these situations. I encourage an open discussion on these issues, but I don’t support doing so on their terms. We can create a productive dialogue to address these challenges, but when we lower ourselves to their level of discourse, we have conceded to them.
These people have the right to express their viewpoints, as contained in the First Amendment, even when those viewpoints are offensive to many of us. I encourage you to share your thoughts and beliefs in a constructive and responsible fashion.
I call upon each of us to recognize the value of open discourse, while simultaneously standing firm in our values for an inclusive and diverse community. Please join me in standing for each other in these trying times.