Our campus community is a vibrant and diverse place. It brings together tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff, visitors and members of the public from across the region. We represent endless combinations of race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, faith, gender identity/expression, ability, intellectual interest, personal and professional goals. We have formally and informally taken significant strides forward in our efforts to recognize, celebrate and take best advantage of that diversity.
One of the essential elements of our ongoing efforts is the protection of the principle of free speech and expression. Recently an organization that encourages divisiveness and intolerance made its presence known by posting flyers in various NIU buildings. Events like these serve as a reminder of the careful balance communities like ours need to maintain. As a matter of principle we protect free speech while being watchful that the limit of that right of expression is the moment it threatens the safety and security of members of our learning community.
Moments like these demand response. We all must continue to engage actively and productively with individuals and organizations with whom we differ on issues of substance. Productive engagement is a cornerstone of strong communities that respect and value difference. Individuals and organizations encouraging isolation, division and intolerance move that dialogue and our community in the wrong direction. We stand together to denounce their actions.
Our responses need to be more than just words. This situation demands thoughtful action. The Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sponsors a robust series of discussions and events designed to provide all members of the NIU community a safe, structured environment within which we can explore the issues that divide us. There are five Presidential Commissions - The Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, The Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities, The Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, The Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives and The Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities - whose primary mission is advising the University President on matters related to the climate on campus for groups whose voices have been historically and institutionally marginalized. We invite you to engage with us as we strive to make your lived experience as a part of the Huskie community as positive and productive as possible.
We encourage the NIU campus community in all of its diversity to let this moment serve as a poignant reminder of the need for us to come together. We need to connect with and nourish a richer and healthier understanding of one another, rather than allowing ignorance, fear and intolerance a place to grow.
With Huskie Pride,
The Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- Alan Clemens, Chair
The Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities
- Mary Lynn Henningsen, Chair
The Presidential Commission on the Status of Women
- Laura Vasquez, Chair
The Presidential Commission on Interfaith Initiatives
- Andrew Pemberton, Chair
The Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities
- Felicia Bohanon, Chair