The month of August at our colleges and universities is a time of optimism as a new academic year gets underway. But the horrific events over the weekend on and near the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville have served as a stark reminder that higher education is not immune to exposure to those who promote hate, intolerance, and oppression.
What was under attack in Virginia was the values our colleges and universities hold dear: That our campuses are places of hope and opportunity for all people; That our commitment to diversity and inclusion makes our campuses and our communities stronger; That our campuses welcome the robust but civil debate and discussion of ideas; That the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech but not the right to harm those with whom we disagree.
Our campus communities are committed to speaking out against the efforts of those who would attempt to divide us based on our differences.
We stand with the University of Virginia, the City of Charlottesville, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our campuses are safe places free of intimidation or fear, where ideas can be debated and where all students – no matter their race or creed or gender – can learn and grow.
Riverland Community College, a member of the Minnesota State system, formerly known as Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The system includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 400,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system in the United States.