Tensions tend to run high during election season and this year is no exception. Here in North Carolina all you have to do is turn on the television set to see that frustration and concern about any number of issues have worked their way into the political process at just about every level. There are challenges on campus as well, but as I said last summer, I believe we have an opportunity here to move NC State to new heights.
There is a renewed sense of pride on campus and I see that on the faces of the students, faculty and staff that I encounter every day. I hear it from alumni and the general public. The outpouring of good will and caring among the Wolfpack family is true and genuine.
But we still have work to do. The thoughtless act of defacing the Free Expression Tunnel with racially charged obscenities and derogatory comments directed to the GLBT community reminds us of that.
In order to achieve our goals and to prepare students for the global workplace, we must create an environment and an overall sense of global awareness on campus that encourages and embraces all forms of diversity.
The real value of the Free Expression Tunnel is that it is an icon. It is the embodiment of free speech, a place where we can air our thoughts openly. It’s a place where, to cite a recent example, design students can choose to express their appreciation for their Dean. And, it’s a place where frustrations are aired even when those frustrations take on the most negative tones.
But, here’s the reality: the Free Expression Tunnel is us. What we say and do there says as much about us as the clothes we wear, the ethics we live our lives by and the politics we practice. The question for us all is are we going to practice the politics of hate and destruction, or are we going to be a force for respectful dialog even where there are differences of opinion?
We must remain committed to the collective pursuit of excellence through acceptance of both individuals and ideas that may be different than our own, for these are the things that will continue to move us all forward.
Diversity makes our lives richer and gives us the chance to advance our university by encouraging a culture that values empathy, respect and equality for all. By doing this, we hope to be paving the road for a more diverse and inclusive world – both at home and abroad.
NC State University