In light of recent political events, I write to praise tolerance, openness and respect.
Earlier this month, the university’s president and the chancellors of all four campuses sent a message to students protected by DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That message was clear: We stand with you.
And we will remain by your side. The university is urging Congress to permanently protect “dreamers,” and it has marshaled resources to assist these valued members of our community.
Of course, DACA addresses one aspect of immigration, one of many contentious social and political topics today. Many well-informed observers say the American people are at least as divided now as they were during the Vietnam War. Such political discord invariably appears on university campuses.
Like America itself, the university is predicated on the idea that free and open discourse is wise, good and just. We cherish the marketplace of ideas, a concept famously championed by John Milton and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. We embrace free expression because it embodies one of our first principles, which is academic freedom.
On campus, we will encounter ideas we do not share and beliefs we do not hold. Let us listen with open minds. When we disagree, let us do so harmoniously. When we are committed to open discourse and genuine respect, we represent the best of the university, and we foster hope for the future of the nation.
James W.C. White is interim dean of the college.