One of the guiding values of the University of Illinois is our commitment to each other. This commitment begins with simple respect, and is manifest in civil discourse.
If you have been following the media, you may be aware that a small number of students at the Urbana campus, upset that classes had not been canceled due to the cold weather on Monday, sank far below any minimal standard of decency when they took to social media to post vitriol aimed at Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise. Racist, sexist comments that were sometimes vulgar or even violent quickly went viral and have brought national attention and disgrace to the University of Illinois.
Though even these comments are protected speech, they harm the University and every person associated with it. In particular, it is worth trying to imagine how some students must feel to have among them a group of peers, however small, who may harbor such hatred beneath the surface.
Let this incident be a reminder that each of us has a responsibility to temper even our strongest personal opinions with humanity. A university is an ideal place to bring a broad range of ideas and differing perspectives and air them out in reasoned argument. There is no proper place for demeaning or intimidating speech.
John Corbally Presidential Professor