Racial, ethnic or religious discrimination have no place at the University of Michigan. Targeted attacks against groups of people are hateful and serve only to tear apart our university community.
An anti-Islam message written in chalk on the Diag yesterday has caused members of our community to feel threatened and unwelcome. I want everyone at the University of Michigan – those hurt by yesterday’s message and others who have expressed similar concerns in association with other events – to know that I am committed to fostering an environment that is welcoming and inclusive of everyone, free from threat or intimidation. A community in which everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive.
Attacks directed toward any individual or group within our community, based on a belief or characteristic, are inconsistent with the university’s values of respect, civility and equality. These are core values and guiding principles that will help us as we strive to live up to our highest ideals.
I believe our values take on an even more poignant importance during this time of heightened political strife, as people and beliefs are targets of swirling rhetoric. But amidst these challenging times, our core values can help ground our community. Together we can focus on how best to create a supportive environment for one another.
As I have said many times in the course of my presidency, we must find our way as a community that strongly encourages a robust exchange of ideas, an exchange that captures diversity of thought and leads to constructive dialogue and heightened understanding. The right of free speech, especially speech that wounds, will sometimes create pathways that seem almost impossible to navigate. But I have talked to thousands of members of the University of Michigan community, on all three of our campuses, and I am convinced that we have the ability to come together to engage in meaningful dialogue on difficult topics that is enabled by our deep commitment to respect for all.
We stand together against hate. We must work together toward deeper understanding.