Collegiality and Care Support Inclusive Expression
November 3, 2023
Dear SAIC Community,
As a School, we have no greater responsibility than to foster a safe learning environment. Such an environment is a space where we do not hide from complex ideas but discuss them in the spirit of learning, growing together through shared inquiry, not apart through mutual fear. We gather together as an inclusive campus, where we each have the peace of mind to broach difficult subjects.
Yesterday, a group of students participated in an unsanctioned gathering outside of the 280 Building. Billed as a walkout in support of Palestinians in Gaza, the event touched on world events that have moved many of us who learn, teach, and work at SAIC. While the event unfolded without incident, and freedom of expression is something we highly prize at SAIC, some of the language used at the event disturbed the equilibrium of some community members, and we would like to address that now.
At our School, we encourage self expression, which means not only being true to ourselves but respectful of others' sense of security. We want to create gatherings where we can listen and learn from one another. That can be especially difficult when discussing complex and long-gestating political strife, marked by generations of fighting and failed attempts at peace. Too many have died, and are suffering now, in the region, and in the heat of our emotions it is easy to forget the impact our words and actions can have on our classmates and colleagues. As I have said before, SAIC condems the hatred of any person based on religion, country of origin, or any other aspect of their identity, and we denounce both anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment and harassment. That means we ought to avoid inflammatory rhetoric or the disparagement of the peers with whom we disagree. I urge everyone to work toward an inclusive campus in their words and actions.
Members of the faculty and staff in student and academic affairs are hard at work planning a series of programs that will discuss the history of Israel, Palestine, and the region; offer personal reflections from those who have lived and worked in the area; and hold space for community gathering, listening, and healing. These programs will be announced next week.
In the interim, please keep safe. Keep calling upon each other with collegiality. And keep engaging one another with care.