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Our Response to Charlottesville

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

On the first day of the new academic year, we will reach out to you with a welcoming message. However, recent violence in Charlottesville and the subsequent response have compelled us to also write to you now.

Our community denounces the hatred espoused and violence committed by white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups this past weekend, which resulted in death and injury as well as further pain to the deepest wounds of the United States of America. Violent acts of hatred born of bigotry and prejudice are not new in the history of this nation. However, it is wrong to suggest a moral equivalence among those who seek to deny the life and liberty of their neighbors and those who act to protect the inalienable rights of others. There have always been those who work for justice, equality, and peace for all, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) rejects the untruth that all sides were equally culpable in Charlottesville or that our values are immaterial to the positions we take in society.

At SAIC, the values we hold dear include our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We also value critique as an essential tool for the study of art and design. This invites a complex discourse that tolerates difference while exposing us to new knowledge, which is the definition of learning. These values make our community able to explore ambitious, innovative, and challenging ideas while respecting one another’s uniqueness and never resorting to violence. The conduct we value on campus should be analogous to the behavior we exemplify to the larger world. As we work together to maintain an environment for meaningful exchange, we count ourselves among the artists, designers, scholars, and citizens who oppose racism and fascism anytime, anywhere.

Our irrepressible quest for knowledge and embrace of difference makes our art better and our citizenship stronger. We look forward to welcoming you back to campus in just under two weeks and recommitting ourselves to the academic excellence, artistic exploration, and responsible citizenship that characterize the learning and growing that take place at SAIC.

Elissa Tenny
President

Craig Barton
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs

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