Message from the Dean

June 16, 2020

Message from Provost Liesl Folks

Dear campus community members and friends of the University of Arizona,

Many of you have taken time to write to share your concerns and questions over a number of alarmingly racist social media posts which appear to have originated with current or incoming University of Arizona students, in response to the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide protests against systemic and institutional violence against and marginalization of the Black community.  Other recent posts have documented racist acts by recent graduates of UArizona.  I very much understand your concerns, and your suggestions that the University act in response.
 
Some of these callous, appalling expressions of racism have come from very young adults.  It is part of our mission to educate such students, knowing as we do that cruelty towards others who are different from us so often comes from a place of ignorance and a lack of shared experience.  The very experience of shared learning within our nation’s universities is a powerful way to dismantle ignorance, increase compassion, and reduce cruelty towards others who are different from us.  For this reason, I believe we must continue to operate a “big-tent” institution, allowing all students a chance to learn and mature, to grow their intellectual abilities, to develop a working knowledge of history, of cultures and of the workings of democracy, with the words from the preamble to the Constitution as a lodestar, to “form a more perfect Union … insure domestic Tranquility … (and) promote the general Welfare.”  
 
Please know that we appropriately follow-up with each student to educate them of our shared values, and to help them to understand the impacts of their actions on others. If students have violated our Code of Conduct, we will enforce it.
 
It is imperative, now especially given ever-expanding social media use, to educate the individuals who will build the systems and institutions that uphold society and the Constitution, with the express aspiration that they will find the wisdom to become part of the solution to institutional and systemic impediments facing our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.   Integrity. Compassion. Exploration. Adaptation. Inclusivity. Determination. We live these values every day and we continue to work with the students who want to participate in our educational community to help them to learn and grow responsibly in our special Wildcat way.
 
I do not agree.  I do not excuse.  I do not condone.  But I do defend the right for students to seek an education that might help them become better humans and to fulfill their human capacity for doing good in the world.
 
Regards,

Liesl


The Dean of Students' Response to Racist Social Media - June 4, 2020