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On belonging and mutual respect

November 20, 2018

Recent weeks have brought news about hate-inspired violence from around the country. The work of the liberal arts -- our research and creative work, instruction, engagement -- is always vital, but perhaps never so directly and meaningfully as when we grapple with and process these terrible events. Insights, perspectives, and analysis from our college help both to understand the present as well as envision paths toward a better future where mutual dignity and respect thrive. All of you can be rightly proud that you contribute to that knowledge creation.

When I met with our first-year students at the beginning of the semester, I said the following: 

The world is shrinking. People of different religions, backgrounds, languages, and cultures work together every day. My sincere hope is that in your time here, you’ll discover that the coming together of different people is where some of the best ideas are born. That learning how to agree to disagree with someone is a valuable skill. And that finding common ground is a very powerful experience.

I want you to know that whatever your political views, the presence or absence of religious beliefs, your ethnicity, race, gender identification, age, marital status, sexual preference, country of origin, or disability or veteran status, introvert or extrovert, whether your family income is low, middle, or high, and whether you hail from the city or the country or from inside or outside Minnesota … you have a place here, you earned your way here, and you belong here.

Those words I spoke to our students apply equally to all of you, our wonderful faculty and staff.