We are writing to share our profound sadness and concern at the events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, beginning Friday night. Like many of you, we were horrified at the sight of white supremacists with racist and hate-filled messages marching on a university campus. Even worse was the violence, injury and loss of life that ensued. It was a terrible weekend for Charlottesville and our nation, and a reminder of how much work we have left to do as a society.
The expressions of neo-Nazism and white supremacy at the heart of the weekend’s events are heartbreaking, sickening and unacceptable. There can be no place for that kind of racism and hate in a civilized society — and that includes at the University of Kansas.
Beginning Saturday evening, several KU offices and leaders have used social media to denounce the abhorrent behavior and statements of white supremacists and express concern for the victims. We want the people of Charlottesville and our colleagues at the University of Virginia to know they are in our thoughts, and their experiences will inform our efforts to confront hate and make our KU community more inclusive. Moreover, we support UVA President Teresa Sullivan in condemning the despicable acts and sentiments that have affected their community and our nation.
As faculty, staff and students return to Mount Oread this week, we will apply ourselves to discussing how we can continue to confront hatred and bigotry, both through our scholarship and efforts outside the classroom. More broadly, we will commit ourselves to our ongoing work to address diversity and inclusion on our campuses, and to ensure that all Jayhawks feel valued and welcome here.
The University of Kansas is a marketplace of ideas. We will – and should – have difficult conversations and disagreements with each other on complicated topics. But racism, intolerance and hatred – and violence borne of those views – are never acceptable at KU and, in fact, are antithetical to our values as a university. We pledge to work with all of you to ensure we live up to those values and do our part to condemn and confront prejudice and hate wherever they exist.
Douglas A. Girod, Chancellor
Neeli Bendapudi, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for the Lawrence Campus
Robert Simari, Executive Vice Chancellor for the KU Medical Center and Executive Dean of the School of Medicine