Dear members of the Metropolitan State University community:
Welcome to the start of another academic year. It is always exciting to anticipate the return of current students and the beginning of a journey for our new students. While I am generally optimistic about the year ahead, I am concerned about events occurring on or near colleges and universities throughout the country. The events in Charlottesville, Va., home to the University of Virginia, have been horrifying and I am repulsed by these dangerous and hateful acts. The leadership of Metropolitan State stands in solidarity with the President of U VA and her leadership team.
As a public university, we must be firmly committed to upholding the democratic value of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. We are obligated to provide a place for those who wish to express “the thought that we hate.” However, we are not obligated to stand by when others are threatened, speech is not truthful or the words uttered incite violence. I will be working with our facilities and security teams to ensure that our campus is safe, that individuals are free from harm, intimidation or physical violence, and that a respectful climate is maintained.
I am pleased to include the following statement by Minnesota State’s Chancellor Devinder Malhotra, expressing the shared concerns of presidents across our system regarding the events in Charlottesville:
“The month of August at our colleges and universities is a time of optimism as a new academic year gets underway. But the horrific events over the weekend on and near the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville have served as a stark reminder that higher education is not immune to exposure to those who promote hate, intolerance, and oppression.
What was under attack in Virginia was the values our colleges and universities hold dear: That our campuses are places of hope and opportunity for all people; That our commitment to diversity and inclusion makes our campuses and our communities stronger; That our campuses welcome the robust but civil debate and discussion of ideas; That the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech but not the right to harm those with whom we disagree.
Our campus communities are committed to speaking out against the efforts of those who would attempt to divide us based on our differences.
We stand with the University of Virginia, the City of Charlottesville, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our campuses are safe places free of intimidation or fear, where ideas can be debated and where all students - no matter their race or creed or gender - can learn and grow."
In the face of the hatred and bigotry displayed by groups such as neo-Nazis, skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists this past weekend, let us re-commit to our University values that welcome and value all and promote an open, respectful climate which allows us to “engage in meaningful conversations that embrace differing viewpoints and perspectives.”
Metropolitan State has an unwavering commitment to building “a culturally competent and anti-racist learning community…” and to enabling “students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their educational goals.” Let us find ways to work together positively even when our values, our resolve and our tolerance for other viewpoints are tested in the weeks and months ahead.
President Virginia "Ginny" Arthur, JD
Metropolitan State University