Exterior shot of the SAIC MacLean Center and Lakeview Building.

Rejecting Hate, Embracing One Another

October 18, 2023

Dear SAIC Community,

Sadly, many Israeli and Palestinian civilians are suffering with the escalating violence in the region, making this conflict palpably present to many in the School community, including me. With our emotions roiling, many of us want to express our views. One member of our community expressed views on their personal social media account—views that are not reflective of the School or the values we as a community share—causing distress among those both within and beyond our campus. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago rejects such hateful views, and I want to clarify our values as an educational community.

SAIC is vehemently opposed to all terrorism, including the terrorist acts of Hamas. Furthermore, we are heartbroken that so many innocent lives, both Israeli and Palestinian, have been lost or thrown into turmoil. We condemn the hatred of any peoples based on religion, country of origin, or any other aspect of their identity, and we condemn both anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim sentiment and harassment. Our institutional policies align with these values and help us create a space where a global community can learn and grow together. As a college, our purpose is one of peace, that believes education, not violence, is the better adjudicator of conflict.

Our commitment to a productive learning environment means we greatly value principles, like academic freedom and freedom of expression, that preserve our ability to experiment, take risks, and even make mistakes in the creation of new knowledge. Upholding these principles, however, does not mean we condone hate speech or that the views of one of us represents the opinions of us all or the School as a whole.

Rather, this commitment means that colleges are rigorous places of engagement that require us to hear our classmates and colleagues express ideas we, at times, disagree with or even find repugnant. But even when we disagree, we don’t shun, dox, or namecall. We invite one another into more dialogue. At SAIC, our paramount aim is to create a learning environment in which a plurality of ideas can be challenged, revised, and improved, and programs are being developed to help us better understand the current conflicts humanity faces. When we learn from one another, our ideas get better, our sense of belonging gets deeper, and our ability to negotiate the society we share reflects love instead of hate.

Elissa Tenny