Chancellor Message to Campus
Honoring our Commitment to Diversity
Dear Students and Colleagues,
Symbols, and symbolic acts, can be powerful.
Last week, Provost Lon Kaufman and I proclaimed this campus's commitment to diversity and social justice as we joined other U.S. higher education leaders in calling for immigration reform. This act was real -- we want to persuade the federal government to let talented scholars study and stay here in our state and across our nation. It was also symbolic of UIC's long tradition of welcoming all.
Unfortunately, also last week, a senseless act of vandalism left some in our community feeling personally attacked and marginalized. A portrait exhibit, "I Define Myself: Undocumented and Unafraid," which has been displayed around campus for several months through a collaboration of the Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and the immigrant campaign Coming Out of the Shadows, was defaced. Some of the portraits were damaged and the interpretive panel was stolen while the exhibit was on display outside the building where the Gender and Sexuality Center is located.
The destruction of property -- of art -- was real. What we cannot know is whether it was also symbolic. It may have been random; the vandals left no message and have not yet been identified. But the pain inflicted on the artists, the portrait subjects, the sponsors and other supporters of the exhibit's message of hope and strength is real.
The Gender and Sexuality Center is working with the Office of Diversity and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services to restore the damaged portrait exhibit. This may be finished as soon as tomorrow.
To help restore our community's sense of mutual respect and shared values, we have scheduled an open campus forum next week to discuss our hopes and expectations of inclusion, support, and freedom of expression (see below.)
We know this is a time of year that is both busy and stressful. We hope you are able to attend the forum, but in any case, please take time to reach out to friends and colleagues to renew bonds of trust and shared ideals.
May 2, noon: "A Brown Bag Discussion: Honoring Our Commitment To Diversity." Dr. Michele Kelley, UIC School of Public Health, moderator. Student Center East Room 605. Sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, in partnership with the School of Public Health and the Office of Diversity.
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