These are not normal times

For the third time since the election of Donald Trump, Kent Fuchs, President of the University of Florida, has had to send a letter to our organization regarding abhorrent behavior occurring on campus.

On January 26, 2017:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

As the University of Florida continues to support the peaceful gathering of students at Turlington Plaza in response to the man with a swastika on his armband, I want to be clear that I do not accept such symbols of hate.

As noted in Tuesday afternoon’s university statement, swastikas are symbols associated with the Holocaust, which exterminated six million Jews as well as multitudes of individuals from other persecuted groups on the basis of their race, religion or sexual orientation. The University of Florida encourages inclusion, respect and empathy for others, not hate.

Many people have contacted the university to ask that the individual be removed from campus. While I decry and denounce all symbols of hate, the individual, who is not a faculty, staff member or student, was expressing his First Amendment rights and we could not legally remove him from public areas of campus.

The UF administration, staff and campus police continue to monitor the situation closely. I encourage everyone at the university to participate in open and civil dialogue as we continue to support each other and build a caring community.

As always, if you are aware of members of the UF community in distress, please contact U Matter, We Care at umatter@ufl.edu. If you are a victim of a crime or see something suspicious, please report it to the police.

Warm regards,
Kent

W. Kent Fuchs

President, University of Florida

On January 12, 2017:

Dear UF community:

Today, a University of Florida journalism professor discovered a noose on a lectern in his classroom.

The incident was reported to the University of Florida Police Department and an investigation is ongoing.

While we do not know why the rope was placed there or the intention, recent reports indicate it may have been a prank. Nonetheless, the shameful and deplorable history that nooses evoke opens wounds, particularly for members of the Black community. 

I hope all of us will care deeply and support those who are the targets of such symbols.

I want to be clear that I believe symbols of hate and racism undermine the kind of community that is so vital to the university’s goals of mutual understanding and respect. I also want to be clear that racial discrimination has no place at our university.

I affirm my support for our Black students, staff and faculty and am pleased to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy with many of them beginning tonight at a vigil at the Institute of Black Culture. Other events continue all month and the schedule can be found HERE.

Together, I hope our community will reject racism and violence in all forms and join together to make our university a welcoming place for everyone.

If you know anything about this incident or are the victim of a crime, please report it to the police. If you are the victim of discriminatory behavior, please report it to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. As always, if you are aware of students in distress for any reason, please refer them to U Matter, We Care at umatter@ufl.edu. 

Warm regards,
Kent

W. Kent Fuchs

President, University of Florida

On November 22, 2016:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

 In the past week, we’ve seen incidents of racist vandalism on and around our campus. I want to be clear that there is no place for racial discrimination at the University of Florida. I also want to be clear that I view statements and symbols of hate as being contrary to the mutual respect and understanding which we value and cherish on our campus and which are so vital to the University’s educational goals.   

 The University of Florida is a community of learners, educators and scholars. We encourage open and honest dialogue. We strive to understand one another and embrace our rich diversity.

 As I wrote in my op-ed in the Independent Florida Alligator last week, my prayer is that I and every UF student, faculty and staff member will practice humanity and kindness. In these times of such hostility, we have the opportunity to be leaders in demonstrating good will and empathy for others.

 The emotions running through our community are as varied as the people who make up the university. I encourage you to participate in open, respectful dialogue and to listen to others, even when it is difficult.

 If you are the victim of a crime, please report it to the police. If you are the victim of discriminatory behavior, please report it to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. As always, if you are aware of students in distress for any reason, please refer them to U Matter, We Care at umatter@ufl.edu

 With warmth and best wishes for the Thanksgiving break, 

W. Kent Fuchs

President, University of Florida

And finally, from an op-ed in The Alligator

I have three aspirations for all Gators.

First, that we denounce all forms of hate. I hope even shy and introverted individuals like me will speak up and replace hate with active love. Many members of our wonderfully diverse UF community are afraid. It is my hope that each of us, in our words and actions, demonstrates our support for those who feel threatened and defends the rights of all. At a minimum, I urge our community to report messages and incidents of concern to our U Matter, We Care program.

Second, that we commit to always listening to each other, even when the message is hard to hear. This is a community of learners and educators. We will not benefit from our rich diversity if we do not understand one another.

Third, I ask that each of us work to improve the lives of all people. We can do this individually in how we live our lives and as a university overall, through our scholarship, teaching and engagement with society.

It’s a sad state of affairs that the electoral college election of Trump has made it okay for haters to come out and act contrary to our liberal democratic values.

I keep saying this – elections have consequences. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.