Several months ago I wrote a column focusing on the election, the Colorado Creed and the importance of engaging with each other in respectful dialogue. As another campaign season comes to an end and we strive to reunify our nation after two years of spirited and sometimes contentious and polarizing debate, I think it’s important again to remember and recommit to our values as a university.
Following this election season it is natural that reactions to the results give rise to heightened emotions ranging from elation to despair. We are also approaching the end of the semester which can also bring additional anxiety, whether related to final exams, grading, contract renewals or holiday travel.
Our values, provided by the students in the Colorado Creed begin, As a member of the Boulder community and the University of Colorado Boulder, I agree to…. The first line of our creed importantly, and I think correctly, refers to us individually as a member of the community of the University of Colorado Boulder. This may seem obvious, but in this phrase there is no reference to a political, religious, ideological or candidate-specific community. The focus is instead on the one thing that we all have in common, our affiliation with CU. Each one of us chose to come here, and that’s one thing in common that unites us all as a community.
Next is Act with honor, integrity and accountability in my interactions with students, faculty, staff and neighbors. Respect the rights of others and accept our differences. This element of the Creed is so important to us as individuals and the CU community. This value statement means that while we do not have to agree with or defer to someone else’s opposing position we must respect their right to have it. This is reciprocal, in that you should expect others to respect your position, while also not having to agree with it. In the coming days it is incumbent on each one of us as individuals in a common community to respect, support, and strive to understand each other and act with civility, especially when feelings and emotions are the strongest.
On these points let me be very clear. No one has a right to make any member of our community feel unsafe or not valued because of who they are, what they believe in or for whom they voted. The Creed means that as members of the CU Boulder community we have an obligation to engage each other in respectful dialogue, regardless of our differences in political or social viewpoints. If you feel someone has violated this principle, especially if you feel threatened, I encourage you strongly to reach out to the services we have on campus, including Student Affairs, Faculty Affairs, the Ombuds Office, OIEC or even the police department.
Finally, Contribute to the greater good of this community. To contribute to the greater good of our community, we have to be able to acknowledge that many in our community are upset with the election’s outcomes, and many are pleased. Some are excited about our country’s future and others are concerned. We must all understand the fact that there are a variety of opinions and voices within our community, and that is what makes our community great. I hope that we can spend the next several months, not only enjoying the holidays, but beginning to reengage civilly with each other across partisan and political lines, in the best interest not only of our university, but also of our nation.