Dear Union College Community Member:
In my 2018 inaugural address, I observed:
“Union College is one of the oldest colleges in the country, but it was also the first to be non-denominational. Our name refers to the coming together of people from several faiths to form this new college. The founders did not stay in their cultural comfort zones, as did the founders of most other colleges at the time.”
Hate has no place on our campus or in our community. Bullying has no place on our campus or in our community.
We are all grappling with the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel and subsequent violence in the Middle East - and related violence against a mother and child in Illinois, and allegations and threats of violence on some U.S. college campuses. And while we have not experienced violence on our campus, we have seen a few instances of concerning behavior.
Fighting against hate and bullying is not new for me or for our College, but it is especially important when tensions around the world are high. Union is a special place, but it is not an island. The good and the bad that happens in the world can easily find their way here.
So what can each of us do?
- Start with yourself. I encourage you to learn about other people’s experiences and perspectives. When engaging with others, make every attempt to seek to understand, not provoke, while appreciating that doing so will be uncomfortable and that we will not always agree with one another.
- Be an ally for constructive engagement. Encourage your peers to seek understanding over conflict. Additionally, the College continues to pursue opportunities to bring community members together for dialogue on this and other complex situations.
- Work with us if problems arise. Student Affairs has longstanding procedures for addressing discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or bullying among students. Concerns among staff should be reported to Human Resources, and among faculty to Academic Affairs. Please know that these are confidential procedures. We do not conduct them publicly and we do not report outcomes publicly, but we do take steps to repair harm and avoid future harm. Any actions are in addition to the actions we have been pursuing for years to eliminate bias on our campus.
Union is our name and our founding value. Like all values, maintaining it requires commitment and courage. It also requires the good will of all who call this their community.
Through my interactions with faculty, staff, and students I am constantly reminded that what brings us together is stronger than what threatens to pull us apart. As global, national, and local challenges arise, focusing on who we are and who we want to be is more important than ever.
We must be true to our name.
David R. Harris