A Time for Learning & Compassion
Monday, January 8, 2024
Dear community members,
Welcome back, DU. It is a joy to see the winding paths through campus once again filled with students, faculty and staff. A new year and a new term often inspire a vigorous return to the work and studies that challenge and fulfill us. I look forward to the many exciting moments of learning and connection while also acknowledging the very real global challenges we face.
And while it is indeed energizing to begin a new year and a new term, during the time away and now, my thoughts regularly turn to the war in the Middle East and the immense human suffering we continue to witness. My thoughts also turn to you, the DU community. Together, and as individuals, we are navigating this pain—most especially those with loved ones who are directly impacted by the war. The immensity of the violence and loss is harrowing, and I know we join the world in our grief.
As an educational institution, we aim to be of service to our community during moments of complexity and difficulty. We do this by offering opportunities for exploration and learning through the exchange of ideas and expertise—most especially, when engaging with differing perspectives. We also offer support and resources for those in pain and in need.
We are offering opportunities for DU community members to process this war as we hope for peace—including learning about the complex history from subject matter experts to having chances to respectfully debate with and learn from one another, as well as having spaces in which to connect and grieve.
Events during the winter term:
Coming soon: The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Human Resources and Inclusive Community are partnering to host two events:
I am deeply thankful to the faculty and staff across campus who have organized these opportunities. More details around these events and more opportunities occurring further into the winter and spring terms will be shared with the community as soon as they become available.
This work is important; it aims to help this community better understand this war. It supports what our incredible faculty do in the classroom. And it complements the supportive services found within Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence—and beyond. We do this to help the community better understand the diverse perspectives, closely held beliefs and pain associated with the war and its history.
Our Policies Reflect Our Values and Expectations
As we have seen at many higher education institutions across the country, the intensity of feeling about this topic can foster highly charged conditions. As this institution’s leader, I want to say unequivocally, the University of Denver will never tolerate calls for genocide or acts of violence, antisemitism or Islamophobia. It is not only our personal beliefs or affiliations that inform us on this matter; it is our policies and our humanity. Our Policy on Discrimination and Harassment prohibits discrimination and harassment based on protected statuses including religion, race, ethnicity, shared ancestry and national origin, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. And our Student Honor Code prohibits additional forms of harassment, including bullying, intimidation, coercion and retaliation. These behaviors have no place at DU, and we have robust systems in place to investigate claims of such behavior, including through our Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX. Outside of formal investigations, EOIX also takes other steps to prevent discrimination from taking root at DU, including by providing education and training, offering support resources to impacted individuals, and conducting reviews of climate issues. More details of the work of EOIX will be shared soon.
Equally important is our commitment to freedom of expression, as represented by the DU statement on freedom of expression. The institution does not speak for our community members. To do so could suppress those who may disagree. Community members make their own determinations and can freely share them within the bounds of our policies on discrimination and harassment. We intentionally foster an environment of pluralism in this way because we know diversity of thought provides better learning outcomes for our students—and better outcomes for society. This is essential to the very soul of higher education.
Finally, thank you to those who demonstrated inspiring compassion over the past few months. As we come together to learn, connect, listen and share, we exemplify the vital role higher education plays in society—especially in times such as these when all we do, who we are and what we value are most needed.