Letter to the Editor: PLU Faculty Call for Policy on Hate Speech

Dear Pacific Lutheran University Community,

We are writing in response to Vice President Joanna Royce-Davis’ Mast letter, “Student Life VP on Repairing the Campus Climate” on March 24. We thank her for acknowledging the ripple-effects of the election night events on our campus and for calling us to double down on our values of inclusion, diversity, human dignity, justice and sustainability. We also agree with her that our community is still healing from what happened on Nov. 8, and share her hope about our community’s developing capacity to address events like these. Remembering in an active way — that is, critically and in a state of alertness — is essential to the process of healing and cultivating our preparedness to respond in the future. This is why we continue to engage in this conversation and remain committed to defend our university’s mission.

Hateful words and actions, like those committed on campus that night, affect us all and cannot be tolerated. They immediately harm those involved, and they inhibit our whole university’s ability to learn, teach and work. They also undermine our mission that includes care and ties us to our Lutheran tradition (see the ELCA’s social statement on race, ethnicity and culture here: https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture).

As faculty members who are deeply concerned about the academic and personal development of our students and the health of our campus climate, we believe those who utter hate or act in hate should be held accountable and subject to appropriate sanctions. We also support and have solidarity with those who are directly and indirectly impacted by hate speech and actions. If our actions are to align with our mission and stated values, we cannot let incidents like this fade away in silence.

The undersigned would like to invite the Administration to consider publishing an official PLU policy statement that will more explicitly pronounce our campus as a welcoming space that will protect those who are vulnerable to hate speech or acts. Such a policy could be drafted jointly by administrators, faculty, staff and students and would clearly articulate the university’s rejections of hate speech and acts. We thank the many people on campus who have done, and continue to do, the hard work on these issues. We look forward to a continued partnership with these individuals and committees to care for all in our university community.

We will continue to witness, speak up, work for change and support our students until we have achieved a campus culture that allows for everyone’s flourishing.

Sincerely,

Sergia Hay (Philosophy)

Adela Ramos (English)

Giovanna Urdangarain (Languages and Literatures/Hispanic Studies)

Claire Todd (Geosciences and Environmental Studies)

Jordan Levy (Anthropology)

Emily F. Davidson (Languages and Literatures/Hispanic Studies)

Jason Skipper (English)

Samuel Torvend (University Chair in Lutheran Studies, Religion)

Nathalie op de Beeck (English/Children’s Literature and Culture)

Rebekah Mergenthal (History)

Nancy Simpson-Younger (English)

Heidi Schutz (Biology)

Joanne M. Lisosky (Communication & Theatre)

Heather Mathews (Art & Design)

Rona Kaufman (English)

Eric Nelson (Classics, Languages and Literatures)

Jp Avila (Art & Design)

Wendy Call (English)

Amy Young (Chair, Department of Communication & Theatre)

Michael Zbaraschuk (Religion)

Amanda Feller (Communication & Theatre)

Jenny James (English)

Shannon Seidel (Biology)

Troy Storfjell (Languages and Literatures/Nordic Studies)

Antonios Finitsis (Religion)

Katherine Wiley (Anthropology)

Justin Eckstein (Communication & Theatre)

Beth Kraig (History)

Rick Barot (English)

Christine Hansvick (Psychology)

Christian Gerzso (English/International Honors)

Scott Rogers (English)

Marit Trelstad (Religion)

Peter Ehrenhaus (Communication & Theatre)

Maria Chavez (Politics and Government)

Mark Mulder (School of Business/Marketing)

Elisabeth Esmiol Wilson (Marriage and Family Therapy)

Tom Smith (Communication & Theatre)

Callista Brown (English)

Genevieve Williams (Library)

Michael Halvorson (History)

Romey Haberle (Biology)

Amy Stewart-Mailhiot (Library)

Rebecca Wilkin (Languages & Literatures)

Mary Ellard-Ivey (Biology)

Teresa Ciabattari (Sociology/Women’s and Gender Studies)

Jennifer Smith (Women’s and Gender Studies)

Bridget Yaden (Languages and Literatures)

Lisa Marcus (English)

Jim Albrecht (English)

Seth Dowland (Religion)

Ami V. Shah (Global Studies/Anthropology)

Anna Leon-Guerrero (Sociology)

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