Chancellor Blank emailed the message below to all students, faculty and staff on Aug. 16.

Members of our Campus Community,

We had planned to wait until later in August to welcome you to our UW community ahead of the fall semester, but events across the nation compel us to reach out to you today.

We, like many of you, were appalled by the scenes from last weekend’s protest and rally in Charlottesville and horrified by the actions that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer.

The use of violence in the service of racist and anti-Semitic ideology is cowardly and against the ideals this country has fought to preserve for generations. We unambiguously reject violence and the ideologies of white supremacist groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis that express hatred of people because of their identities. These organizations are antithetical to the values that this campus represents.

We’d encourage you to engage in conversations on these issues in the days to come. We also want to reaffirm our commitment on three vital principles.

First and foremost, the safety of our campus community is our top priority. Only in an environment that is safe can teaching, learning, research and service—each central to our mission—take place.

We have worked to put in place policies and plans that ensure our community’s safety as it relates to campus speakers, protests and demonstrations. We reserve the right to cancel or disallow events that threaten violence.

Second, we value the diversity of our campus community as a source of strength that improves learning, creativity and innovation. And, we aspire to build a community where all students can thrive, and challenging conversations can happen in a learning environment, in a respectful manner.

We would invite you to learn more about our efforts at http://campusclimate.wisc.edu.

And finally, our commitment to free expression compels us to allow the exchange of viewpoints, even those that violate the values for which this campus stands. However, our goal is always to ensure that such speech remains an exchange of ideas, not an exchange of threats or violence which could endanger our community.

We stand by these values and plan to continue to communicate about them in the coming academic year.

Respectfully,

Rebecca Blank, Chancellor
Sarah Mangelsdorf, Provost
Patrick Sims, Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer
Lori Berquam, Vice Provost and Dean of Students