Dear Cougar Community:
The free exchange of ideas is a cornerstone of American democracy. It is also central to our academic mission—the creation and dissemination of new knowledge. Sometimes, new ideas can lead to conflict. With the 2018 midterm elections just around the corner, we will be exposed to opinions and beliefs that run counter to our own. In a democratic society, respectful disagreement in pursuit of truth is essential.
Free expression is more powerful when we consider the perspectives of the people with whom we are communicating and when we approach discussion and debate with a spirit of curiosity, humility, generosity, and care. Observation, analysis, critique, and debate are at the core of our intellectual mission. Actively listening to the opinions of others and affirming the freedom to express views helps us refine and clarify our own beliefs and values.
As I have said before, public universities are uniquely positioned to be laboratories for free expression, a place where we can develop the skills needed for informed civic engagement in the community. WSU provides room for ideas to be expressed, explored, considered, examined, and critiqued.
We also expect people to be treated with respect in our community. We must be mindful that the exercise of free expression, including both speech and action, without respect for and consideration of others, can and does cause harm, harm that often lingers.
During times of political division, emotions can run high. I encourage you to take a step back and remember why we are here—to create and share knowledge that furthers the University’s mission, goals, and values.
Thank you for helping us build a community that embraces and cherishes these ideals and all members of our community.