A message to our community

I stayed up late last night to watch the outcome of the presidential election, as I suspect many of you did. As in every election, there were winners and losers. But regardless of your political affiliation, I think all Americans agree that we would like to see America thrive in the future as a vibrant democracy and a world leader.

Here in our campus community, we will continue to strive to be a lively intellectual environment that is also a welcoming and inclusive place for our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. It is only in an environment that is safe and free from harassment that our primary mission of teaching, learning, research and service can take place.

We aim to express these values in practice every day. Many of our campus governance groups also recently affirmed a Campus Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I want to share it here:

“Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW-Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.

“The University of Wisconsin-Madison fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background—people who as students, faculty, and staff serve Wisconsin and the world.”

These are ideals that we aspire to, but sometimes fail to meet. While we are taking a variety of steps to address campus climate concerns, we are a long way from becoming the community we want to be.

But there is reason for hope. Nothing happens until people get involved, and we’re seeing that:

  • Student leaders are active, working for change and raising awareness.
  • Faculty are more engaged than ever in campus climate issues
  • Our staff has implemented innovative programs to support our community.

We have done much in recent years, via our Diversity Framework, and newer efforts chronicled on our campus climate site.

We must continue our efforts to build a stronger, more inclusive and interconnected community here at UW that can support one another and contribute to a path forward for the nation.

Close elections like we’ve just experienced can result in a range of reactions. In the coming days, I ask that people engage respectfully in debate over current events. We’re providing space for community discussions with staff on hand to listen and provide support:

  • Thursday 9 a.m. to noon, Our Wisconsin Room B/C, Red Gym
  • Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Landmark Room, Union South
  • Friday 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Northwoods Room, Union South

Resources are also available through University Health Services, the Multicultural Student Center, and the LGBT Campus Center.

The more inclusive, interconnected and engaged we are as a community, the stronger and more resilient we become. These efforts are a work in process. Each of us is always in the process of becoming more aware and more understanding of other perspectives. This work is never finished. But more than ever, it is vital to our campus, nation and world.