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We are ONE West Virginia University

November 10, 2016

Dear West Virginia University Faculty, Staff and Students:

Following a hard-fought election, we all have questions, concerns and hopes. Emotions are running high on our campus, as they are throughout the country. Like you, I have few answers about what the future holds for our nation. But I am confident about what it holds for West Virginia University, where our shared values must outweigh our differences.

Our community must be a safe, supportive home for all Mountaineers.

It must be a place where we celebrate the freedom to speak and accept the responsibility to listen and understand.

On our campus, we will come together to argue and rebut, debate and debunk, learn and teach. We can accept nothing else. The only thing we will not tolerate is intolerance.

We will be what a university must be. Not an echo chamber that reinforces fashionable thought. Not a talk-show spectacle where the loudest and most vulgar voices prevail. But an incubator for open and respectful discourse regarding even the most contentious issues.

In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, who led at a time of greater division and despair than we can imagine, “We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.”

Above all, we must continue to support and take care of each other. We will never tolerate discrimination or intimidation based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, disability, nationality, veteran status, immigration, socioeconomic background or political affiliation. So, be thoughtful of each other while exploring issues and concerns in a respectful manner. 

On Monday, November 14, our Student Government Association will host a Unity Circle celebrating our common values and our diverse community. I encourage all faculty, staff and students to attend this event, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Woodburn Circle.

Many opinions will flourish here as we have faculty, staff and students from all 50 states and from 114 countries from around the world. But we must remember, we are ONE West Virginia University.

Thought, reason and debate will be our antidote to incivility, intolerance and insult. Respect, empathy and connection will be our rebuke to hatred, violence and discrimination.

With the free, open and respectful exchange of ideas we will set a standard for productive discourse and craft a blueprint for an inclusive, empowering future.

Sincerely,

E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University