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Monday, November 14, 2016

We All Own This

We are a College of many different backgrounds, viewpoints, and beliefs. We are Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. We are Chicano, Latino, Asian, Black, White, and American Indian. We vote for Republicans, Democrats, and other candidates. We are LGBTQ and straight. We are from Minnesota, from the United States, and from countries around the world. We are liberal, conservative, socialist, and libertarian. And we are many more individuals and groups.

We are all in this together. All of us, across all of our differences of background and viewpoint, have valuable contributions to make and must be confident we are fully free to be ourselves and be fully embraced as part of our community. Our differences of background, identity, and viewpoint strengthen our community.

You belong here.

Recent weeks have brought reports of harassment of members of our university community. I join President Kaler and many others on campus who have condemned these actions.

Let me state this plainly and clearly: There is no place in the College of Liberal Arts for verbal or physical harassment or intimidation of individuals or groups based on their identity or their beliefs, nor is such verbal or physical harassment and intimidation tolerated.

We encourage vigorous debate and our success as an institution depends on such debate and difference.

Respect must be the basis of our discussions and interactions. Insults, invective, and physical confrontation are not dialogue. Harassment and intimidation are not the same as constructive interchange.

All of us own this: we must all take action to build an environment that is supportive and inclusive, and we must actively defend and support those being harassed and intimidated. If you don't know what you can do to help, ask your friends, professors, colleagues, advisors, or campus organizations for ideas. For more options, check out the Campus Climate website to review its extensive list of ways to get involved to help build and maintain a positive climate at the U and learn how you can make a difference.

If you have been a victim of intimidation or harassment, I strongly encourage you to visit the Campus Climate website to learn about resources and next steps, including reporting and documenting the incident. Your community of faculty, staff, and students is here to support you and create the environment that allows you to thrive.

It is a tremendous privilege to be part of the University of Minnesota. Let's act and speak in a manner worthy of ourselves, worthy of those who came before us, and worthy of the next generation of Gophers who will inherit what we create at this great institution. We do critically important research, creative work, and teaching in CLA that asks a remarkable range of important questions across an array of disciplines. This work—your work—speaks directly to the major societal challenges and opportunities of our time.

Let's truly endeavor to support, respect, and appreciate each other in our college, on our campus, and beyond the borders of the University.