We are at a moment of significant uncertainty in this country, following a hard-fought election campaign that was marked by unusually divisive rhetoric and an outcome that few had anticipated.
Uncertainty is evident in the range of opinions and emotions that are being expressed by members of our own university community and by individuals and groups across the nation. Some are celebrating the outcome of the election, while others have risen in protest. These reactions reflect a core principle of our democracy – the right of all to speak their minds on important issues facing our country and the world.
Another response to the Presidential election, however, is deeply disturbing and goes beyond the limits of acceptable speech. Over the past week there have been an alarming number of reports of hateful intimidation and harassment at campuses across the country. Tufts has not been immune to this trend. Before the election, graffiti was discovered on the SMFA campus that called for violence against one candidate’s supporters. Threatening behavior or language such as this has no place in our country and it certainly has no place at Tufts University.
In this time of uncertainty, I ask all members of our community to reaffirm our commitment to the values upon which Tufts was founded. The Universalists who established our university embraced those shunted aside by society and fought hard for abolition. When it was founded in 1852, Tufts was significantly more inclusive than other American institutions of higher education. Today, building on that tradition, we welcome students, faculty and staff from a range of backgrounds. Collectively, our diverse identities and beliefs reflect the richness and complexity of the nation and world we seek to serve and make better. Our commitment will not change.
We are and must be a caring community. I encourage you to take care of yourselves and one another. And I ask you to please respect all members of our community, even though you may not agree with their views. This is the essence of a civilized society and critical to an institution such as ours that is dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, and to knowledge-based change.
The university and our individual schools will continue to offer many opportunities on campus to discuss and reflect upon recent events and their larger meanings. And, I urge any for whom it would be helpful, to take advantage of the many resources available for support across Tufts. We are fortunate to have a unique campus community, one that truly values mutual respect and compassion. If we stay true to those values, we will be even stronger in the future.