The past several years have been tumultuous for our world. The stress of a pandemic combined with an already turbulent political climate has sometimes brought out the best in us, and sometimes the worst. On our campus, we strive to be an example of the former rather than the latter, and we mostly succeed. In those few times we fail, though, it’s important that we acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them and become better people.
Most recently, members of the Hindu community felt targeted by speech that they interpreted as hateful and threatening. I personally deplore expressions or speech that negatively target this or any group. Although freedom of speech is a core tenet of an academic environment, and a fundamental right of all Americans, it is not an excuse to attack or denigrate beliefs that are different from our own. Unfortunately, this seems to happen far too often, and robust debate or celebrations of culture and faith are too often silenced by fear or intimidation.
At Wayne State University, we pride ourselves on being a campus where the free and civil exchange of ideas flourishes; where people of all religions are free to practice their faith reverently and openly; and where everyone feels welcome and included, no matter their ideas, views or beliefs. That is only possible in an environment of mutual respect, tolerance and appreciation — and that is the campus environment we work tirelessly to maintain.
M. Roy Wilson