Many members of our campus community continue to reflect on the results of the historic 2016 presidential election. It will take some time to completely absorb and understand the full implications of the election for our university and nation.
After some of the harsh rhetoric and sharp divisions of this campaign season it may be helpful for us to recall our shared civic values as a university community. These include mutual respect, equality and dignity. We have worked very hard at UM-Dearborn to cultivate an inclusive campus community for all faculty, staff, students and guests that acknowledges our similarities and helps us learn from our differences. We are diverse in religion, race, ethnicity, sexuality and many other ways. But we are inclusive in our commitments to mutual respect and acceptance of each other. We are committed to sustaining a learning community where everyone can learn and develop in a welcoming and safe environment.
One further observation: The current climate of concern and discussion on campus does not have to do with how people voted or which candidate they supported. In a democracy everyone has the right—the duty—to support the candidate and party that they favor. And certainly the UM-Dearborn community includes supporters of all the candidates and parties in the recent election. We respect and welcome our students and our faculty and staff without regard to their political affiliations. What is of concern today is not the outcome of the election, but the alarming surge of verbal assaults, harassment, and hate crimes that we have witnessed nationally and regionally in recent days and months. The best protection of our community against these kinds of acts is the vigorous expression of our values. These are the values of inclusion, respect, welcome, equal worth and appreciation for the many different communities who constitute the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
It is a sign of hope that we can all take pride in the quality of our university as a place that fosters mutual respect and acceptance. This climate helps to model the kind of public civility that our nation will need as we move forward. And our students are often the best ambassadors for this commitment to civility and mutual respect.
President Obama, President-elect Trump, Secretary Clinton and many other political and community leaders have called for unity as we move past this election. This message of unity is highly consistent with our core values here at UM-Dearborn. Specific proposals about policies may continue to divide us. But we can be united in our commitment to the equality, freedoms, and worth of all people in our state and our country.
To that end, the Office for Student Engagement and Student Government will hold a weeklong series of events focused on respect:
- Monday – Display an Expect Respect card in your office and/or display it as a banner in your social media profile. Cards available at 10:00 a.m. in any Enrollment Management & Student Life office.
- Tuesday – Wear something maize or blue to show support for respect.
- Tuesday – (12-2 p.m., Kochoff Halls, UC) – Speak Out — An opportunity for students to share thoughts and feelings, and to engage in respectful discourse to achieve mutual understanding, followed by a unity march to reaffirm the university’s commitment to respect and inclusion. This event is sponsored by Student Government in collaboration with a coalition of student leaders across campus).
- Wednesday – Wear an Expect Respect button. Buttons will be available starting Tuesday afternoon in any Enrollment Management & Student Life office.
- Thursday – (10:30-11:30 a.m., Kochoff Hall C) – Expect Respect Coffee Hour – An opportunity for the campus community to come together.
Naturally, I request that anyone who observes an incident of harassment or threat should promptly report the incident to campus police, to the Office of Institutional Equity, the Office of Student Engagement or to my office.
I look forward to working with all of you as we renew our commitment to sustaining a community united by the values of mutual respect, equal worth, and civility.
University of Michigan-Dearborn