Thursday 19 October 2017
This Office of Campus Climate was created to coordinate and support strategic initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion at UC Merced for all campus constituents. Director De Acker works with others throughout the campus on accountability, infrastructure and resources that support inclusive excellence, where equal opportunity, mutual respect and cross-cultural collaboration are fostered. The office also develops an integrated conflict-management system for faculty, staff and students to voice their concerns, work to resolve issues and contribute to a conflict-competent organization.
August 21, 2017
Dear Campus Community,
UC Merced has always been a place that prides itself on diversity and inclusion, and where people from various backgrounds and with various identities can live, work, study and learn together. This week, now that our first-year students have arrived and as a new semester begins, I want to address events on the national scene that have no doubt affected all of us.
We live in a time when expressions of hate against others based on religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, and gender and sexual identity have increased at an alarming rate. The recent events in Charlottesville were a horrific example, and the hatred exposed there against people of the Jewish faith and people of color was chilling.
Neo-Nazis from around the country, our own region included, traveled to Charlottesville to provide a national display of white supremacism, anti-Semitism and racial bigotry. This has created a climate of fear and intimidation from which members of our campus community are not immune.
And so I want to begin the new semester by affirming our campus commitment to a diverse and inclusive learning environment where individuals of all faiths, colors, nationalities, genders and sexual identities are valued and welcomed.
As a campus community, we also value freedom of expression and academic freedom. And as a public university, we are obligated to uphold the First Amendment, which includes the obligation not to prohibit speech even if we find that speech abhorrent. What happens if hate arrives on our campus in the form of protected speech? What actions as a campus community — as groups and as individuals — can we take? What can and should we do when members of our campus community are harmed by the words or actions of others? What is the historic role of civil disobedience in social justice and civil rights struggles, and might that be an option now for some members of our campus community?
In times like these, we have a responsibility to come together as a community of citizens and scholars to ensure that we foster an environment where ideas flourish, where diversity is valued and celebrated, and where students learn free from fear and intimidation. There are no easy answers to the questions we face, and we won’t always agree, but we as an institution of higher education have a critical role to play in finding the best answers we can and helping the nation and our own campus community navigate through this difficult time in our history.
Throughout the upcoming academic year, we will attempt to do that through ongoing campus conversations and other initiatives, which I hope you will participate in and contribute to. Together, we can help find a better path forward and ensure that all of our students have the opportunities for success that they deserve.
Dorothy J. Leland