Students, faculty and staff:
As our nation comes together to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I find myself reflecting on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August. Like many of you, I was horrified at the sight of white supremacists marching on a university campus and the violence, injury and loss of life that ensued. It was a terrible weekend for our nation and a reminder that we have a long way to go if we are to fulfill Dr. King’s dream.
As you return to campus this week, I urge you to seek opportunities to confront hatred and bigotry through scholarship and efforts outside the classroom. More broadly, commit yourself to addressing diversity and inclusion on our campuses and to ensuring that all Jayhawks feel welcome here.
Our university has made good progress in this area in recent years, thanks to you. We continue to pursue initiatives based on input through our university-wide Campus Climate Study and recommendations from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group. I especially want to recognize the efforts of Jennifer Hamer, our vice provost of diversity and equity, who is doing tremendous work for the university in her role.
I want to share a final thought: Martin Luther King Day is not only for remembrance and education; it is also a day to help and serve those around us. Life’s most persistent and nagging question, Dr. King said, is “What are you doing for others?” I call on each of us to commemorate this holiday by serving humanity and doing something bigger than ourselves. If we can do that, we can all contribute to the social change Dr. King fought so hard to create.
Douglas A. Girod