Dear Campus Community:
At this time of year, I am normally writing to our community, many of you for the first time, welcoming you to campus and sharing my excitement about the opportunities that await you. I will be doing that in the coming days, and taking as many opportunities as possible to meet and greet you.
Sadly, the tragic and deplorable events at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville over the weekend have taken precedence not only here at Carolina, but at colleges and universities across the nation at the start of the academic year. I want to begin by emphasizing our core values and reminding everyone that your safety and well-being are my and the University’s most important priorities.
The scenes of violence, torch- and gun-bearing protestors, and people wearing KKK and Nazi symbols and shouting hateful slogans were terrifying and have no place on our campuses or in our society. At Carolina, diversity, inclusion and freedom of speech are at our core and truly living up to them can be difficult. We know that the strength of our community comes from the differences that we each bring. Outpourings of hate, violence and intimidation can tear apart the fabric of open communities like ours, and we need to be vigilant against them.
Many of you have expressed concerns about how similar events might affect our campus and community. I asked Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Mark Merritt, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Winston Crisp and Police Chief Jeff McCracken to address some of your questions related to the First Amendment, laws governing the Confederate Monument and outside speakers, as well as to provide information on resources available to students, faculty and staff. I encourage you to take the time to read this helpful and timely information. These issues are complex, and we welcome your questions and concerns. This is just the start of our conversation this academic year on these important topics facing our campus and our country.
College campuses, like Carolina, are homes to the nation’s dreams about the potential for the future. We thrive on the diversity of people and opinion, and grow through honest debate and quests for new knowledge. Every one of us has the responsibility to uphold our shared values. Together, we make Carolina a place where great ideas can be shared, debated and where we all feel safe.
Carol L. Folt