On Friday, I reached out to inform you of an incident that took place and to request your patience and understanding as we determine appropriate next steps.
We are still piecing together information, but what has been brought to my attention thus far is as follows: A student group participated Friday in Transgender Day of Remembrance, an event that aims to honor the memory of victims of anti-transgender violence. A public exhibit at the campus gazebo included an American flag on which the names of victims were written to symbolize the lack of protection for members of the transgender population, and the flag was hung upside down to symbolize a state of distress. I was informed Friday afternoon that the flag was missing from the exhibit, and later Friday evening, I was told the flag had been located.
Many of you may have spent the weekend debating the events that transpired on Friday, and I promise that we will find ways to support productive campus discussions about our rights and our responsibilities in the weeks ahead. But my immediate request is that we pause and try to understand how others may see things: the pain they may have experienced, the moments—good and bad—that form their worldview, and the frame they apply when they look at our world. We are all members of this community, and I believe we can learn to understand each other better, accept each other fully, and form an inclusive and caring community together.
In the weeks to come, we will host opportunities to discuss our feelings about the incident and the rights and responsibilities of free speech. Let’s please aim to show each other the compassion and respect we would ask that others show us, and earnestly think about the reasons others may see the world differently than we do.
Scott R. Olson