University campuses should stand as beacons of acceptance and inclusion

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dear Appalachian Community:

A campus message on April 12 declared that university campuses should stand as beacons of acceptance and inclusion. I am reaching out today to address what I see as a threat to that ideal.

Recently, members of our community employed their power of free speech to create fear, hurt, anxiety and marginalization for fellow community members by chalking areas on campus with language that was divisive, non-inclusive, and in direct opposition to civil discourse. Free speech is the bedrock of democracy and a cornerstone of any healthy academic institution; however, we must challenge one another to be respectful in discourse.

At Appalachian, we staunchly support free speech and academic freedom. We encourage our community to debate vigorously, challenge and defend ideas, and advocate for your positions. At the same time, we must hold one another accountable to do so in a manner that does not demean, vilify or attack the humanity of your fellow community members. In a democratic society, we often experience a clash of ideas, but no one is “less than” anyone else. To attempt winning an argument by endeavoring to marginalize others kills intelligent discourse and is an affront to true democracy.

I encourage each member of our community to hold fast to their ideals and beliefs, and in doing so, respect the humanity and individual value of others. As we move forward together, let us accept the challenge to embrace our best selves.


Darrell P. Kruger
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor