Earlier this academic year, the St. Lawrence community strengthened its dedication to diversity and inclusivity by adopting a University Statement on Diversity. We committed to seeking common ground or, more pointedly and personally, to understand better the experience of differentness. We affirmed our belief that students, professors, and staff members from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, identities and heritages, when working together, talking together, doing things together are more likely to produce the leaders that our society needs. It’s always better together.
But well-meaning rhetoric is not enough. We must keep asking ourselves how to embrace everyone and involve all because we are all different from each other... really only different in the smallest degree, but not at all different in kind, for we are all human beings.
We also must not righteously dismiss the people whose fear, ignorance, and ill-intended legal remedies put us at risk of retreating from the progress that our nation has made toward inclusivity expressed as long ago as the many ultimately becoming one. We must be firm in principled action, noting the example of Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr, but we must keep clear of the line conveniently separating “us and them,” deciding heroes and demons, or isolating “the others” from an invitation, can we talk?
Rather, we, as Laurentians, must set examples and assume the role of leadership in achieving positive change in our society. Every Laurentian, by every identity, must assume an active role in making our campus a home place of respect, trust, and love for all; only if done here first, can the nation or the world create the larger scale of community life that protects the dignity and worth of all people, as if our common ground is also sacred space.
We do not reserve the work just for the special times that celebrate diversity. Each and every day we will continue the steadfast commitment, the difficult dialogues, and the deeper understanding required to ensure that St. Lawrence University is a campus home for all individuals to celebrate their history, struggles, ambitions, and their pride in belonging to this special place.