A Call for Civility and Personal Accountability
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds
Dear students, staff and faculty:
We have a choice before us. Tuesday is Election Day across the United States, and there will certainly be outcomes that please some and disappoint others.
However, the choice I’m referring to has nothing to do with political parties or candidates for office. Our choice is how we decide to interact with each other despite our differences. Our choice is whether we contribute to, or diminish, an environment where people can achieve their academic and professional goals.
Recent weeks and months have been tough on many members of our campus community. National and international events — as well as events in Kansas and on our own campuses — have affected the environment we strive to provide for students, staff, faculty and visitors at the University of Kansas.
Vice Provost for Diversity & Equity Jennifer Hamer and I have published messages to help Jayhawks better understand the challenges we see and bring visibility to available resources that may be needed. Leaders in Student Affairs have presented a number of national speakers like #MeToo founder Tarana Burke; and other leaders from across campus have amplified these communications. Please do not ignore the messages.
I think that oftentimes, when we talk of racial and ethnic strife, negative messages on immigration, sexual assault, food insecurity, or homophobic chalking on Jayhawk Boulevard, many of us see these as problems or issues for others. Privilege is the ability to not have to think about, concern yourself, or feel the direct harmful impact of these varied forms of violence. We are all on this campus, in this state and in this world together. There are people who are doing the work to make KU more inclusive and civil, but we will not make real progress until all of us are engaged — and that includes a higher proportion of people who identify similar to me whose participation and labor would have an important impact.
Recent events — targeted killings in the U.S. and abroad, mail bombs, potential federal actions that involve marginalized individuals and refugees seeking a better life, white supremacy symbols turning up on campus, and more — affect each one of us. Regardless of our identities, we all pay a price. Hate and violence devastate children, families and communities; spread fear and distrust; create uncertainty among KU’s international population; and restrict our capacity to build our best future.
Pursuing the Ideal
As much as we might want it to be, campus is not a utopia and may never be. Any collection of people this size will have its share of issues. Our university is, however, a training ground where we can speak our mind and vet our ideas. It is a place where faculty and staff — and students — can foster inclusive leadership and inclusive discussion. We can promote engaged learning and professional endeavors in a respect-filled environment.
There is no weakness in being respectful. There is no shame in being considerate. There is nothing wrong with a desire to be a community that cares for its people. Put another way, KU is at its best when we are civil, understanding and compassionate.
The Leader in Each of Us
We must reassess how we work with others in our community and beyond. Set aside any assumptions you may have about each other. Use KU’s incredible research-supported resources to inform your understanding of our society and to join forces with others to improve society. And when we make a mistake, because we probably will, we must be accountable.
Society is not a spectator sport and we all have a role to play. As results from Tuesday’s election emerge, my hope is we can use whatever news develops as an opportunity to have respectful discussions that lead us toward becoming a more knowledgeable, inclusive and cooperative citizenry.
In the days ahead we can choose many things. I hope we choose to be gracious, respectful and patient with one another, that we choose to be informed and that we choose to be involved. Hold me and the Office of the Provost accountable. We will have failures in the goal of making KU a place where everyone feels welcome and included, but we will not give up trying because we believe in who and what Jayhawks can truly be.
News and Notes
If you are registered to vote and have not yet cast an advance ballot, please vote on Tuesday.
The next Campus Budget Conversation will be from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5, in Budig Hall 120. This session, which will be livestreamed and recorded for later viewing, will focus on efforts of KU leadership to create a new budget model that better reflects funding streams and acknowledges strategic priorities. Interim Provost Carl Lejuez will lead the program. Questions can be submitted in advance through email, or anonymously through the online feedback form.
To achieve cost savings and address the campus wide budget cut, Senior Associate Vice Provost for Finance Jason Hornberger and the Shared Service Center leadership team restructured the SSC organization and eliminated vacant positions. There are now four SSCs and some campus customers now working with a different SSC. More information and a chart showing the new SSC structure is available on the SSC website.
The annual Tunnel of Oppression experience begins Wednesday, Nov. 7, and runs through Friday, Nov. 9. Anyone who wants or needs to understand a broad number of issues surrounding oppression is strongly encouraged to attend this immersive experience. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sabatini Multicultural Resource Center. For more information visit the Office of Multicultural Affairs Facebook page.
Several events are scheduled throughout November to honor the service and sacrifice of America’s military veterans and bring awareness to issues facing some veterans. In addition, KU ROTC divisions will stand vigil at campus memorials honoring those who died during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Veterans with KU connections also contributed to “Rethink: I Am a Veteran,” an exhibit November 9-11 at the Lawrence Arts Center, that celebrates women from the community who served in the military.
Interim Provost Carl Lejuez is offering Budget Office Hours to individuals and small groups (two to five people) from the KU community who want to learn more about KU’s budget reduction and its impact. Twenty minute increments are available from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. To request a session, send an email to email@example.com. The next Campus Budget Conversation is scheduled for Dec. 5.
New York Times best-selling author Edwin Black will present “Black Victims of Nazi Policy: From Africa to Berlin to North Carolina” at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 5, in 2049 Malott Hall. Black wrote “Nazi Nexus,” “IBM and the Holocaust” and “War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race.” The free discussion is hosted by Students Supporting Israel at the University of Kansas.
Sixteen KU staff members from across the Lawrence campus were selected for the Aspiring Leaders Program. The eight-month program provides an experiential, hands-on approach to motivate people to apply what they have learned by serving as influential team members and putting into place tools to sustain the learning. Congratulations!
“Let’s Talk about Immigration” will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15, in The Jay of the Kansas Union. The program, sponsored by KU Latin American Graduate Organization, will present four experts from a variety of disciplines, talking about their perspectives and experiences in the context of the current state of immigration.
The KU Libraries will hold a reception to mark a new exhibit “50 for 50: Celebrating Fifty Years of Kenneth Spencer Research Library,” from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Spencer Research Library. The event marks the 50th anniversary, to the day, of the library’s dedication and features 50 distinctive items of impact within the collections. RSVP by Monday, Nov. 5, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Student Involvement and Leadership Center has a number of activities planned to celebrate National Nontraditional Students Week, at KU this week. Nontraditional students make up roughly one-fourth of KU’s undergraduate student population and include those students who have dependents, are veterans, are at least three years older than their classmates or who commute 10 miles or more to attend classes.
The Hall Center for the Humanities presents “Conversation & Short Film with Mamadou Dia,” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 6, in the Hall Center conference room. Dia, a Senegalese filmmaker, is a visiting interdisciplinary scholar at the center. His latest short film “Samedi Cinema” was selected to be in several international film festivals. His stories are rooted in daily intimate realities inspired from his life growing up in northern Senegal and working as a journalist across the African continent.
The next Red Hot Research will be at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at The Commons in Spooner Hall. The topic is “Decision, Randomness, Choice.” Red Hot Research is designed to bring together scholars from different disciplines, speaking for six minutes each. Audience members are encouraged to connect with the speakers and each other during breaks.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
This issue of Provost's Message as well as past messages from this office can be found on the Provost's Message web page25.