On college campuses across the country, students are engaged in challenging but necessary conversations with administrators about race, religion, ethnicity, and identity.
At their best, challenging incidents can usher in long overdue changes that promote greater understanding and equality. At their worst, they can exacerbate tensions and contribute to what some experience as a hostile environment.
Globally, we're seeing how hatred can lead to unimaginable acts of violence.
Nationally, students affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement stood in solidarity with their peers at the University of Missouri who are protesting widespread racism on that campus and working toward meaningful change.
On our campus, which has a long and proud history of student engagement in critical issues of equity and social justice, I want to be sure we acknowledge differences of opinion and work to maintain civility in the midst of turmoil.
In student government, as is their right, the Student Union Assembly this week voted to reinstate a resolution urging the University of California to divest from Israel. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has generated passionate opinions on both sides.
I'm concerned this resolution will have a chilling effect on individuals within our campus community. However unintentional, its passage may create an environment in which some of our Jewish students feel alienated and less welcome on our campus.
We have a commitment at UC Santa Cruz to engaged, respectful dialogue. The free and open exchange of ideas is a pillar of our Principles of Community.
I am convening my Chancellor's Diversity Advisory Council to discuss the climate for Jewish students on campus. The council has advocated for African American students, LGBT students, and the disabled members of our community, among others, and I want to be sure our campus community welcomes and supports Jewish students, faculty, and staff. I will share my thoughts about that conversation as it unfolds.
Universities are microcosms of our complex, diverse global society. With so many differences, the opportunities for division are endless. Instead, let us make the conscious choice to seek common ground, to forge understanding, and to cultivate compassion. By doing so, we will model the way for the world-a laudable and fitting goal for UC Santa Cruz.