September 29, 2017
Civil Discourse: A Call for Leadership
Dear K-State students, faculty and staff,
The national debate around justice and equality has intensified over the past several months. Most recently, the National Football League has become embroiled in controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem. At the core of these issues are legitimate concerns about justice and equality, contrasted with the individual freedoms so many Americans have fought and worked to protect.
The K-State family is not immune from these national debates nor a stranger to the controversies. This year we have already seen anonymous postings of white supremacy posters, genuine concerns by our students who benefit from DACA about their ongoing status, and troubling visa issues among our international students, faculty and staff.
During times of stress and uncertainty, we often look for touchstones to center us and help deal with anxieties and frustrations. While our first reaction is often to seek an immediate response, we are well served to remember our long-standing foundations. Our touchstones include the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution, federal and state laws that protect our privacy (such as FERPA), and more locally, our K-State community principles.
We continue to come back to these touchstones because they are powerful, thoughtful, and stand the test of time. Perhaps the most important support comes from family, whom we naturally lean on for comfort and counsel in stressful times. None of our families are perfect, including the K-State family, but we always pull together when needed the most.
I encourage all of us to be personally aware of the things we can control, and those we cannot. We cannot control whether our national leaders are divisive or inspire us to pull together as a nation. We cannot control anonymous hate messages posted under the cover of darkness. But we can control how we let these disgusting events affect our campuses, communities and culture. This needs to be our focus.
We can continue to work together to solve issues and support one another. For instance, we can ensure we have the right organizational structure and leadership to move us forward on diversity and inclusion. We can provide legal and other support to our DACA students. And, we can react to the national debate in a way that makes us a model and inspires others to pull together to solve our societal issues versus driving us apart.
To me, this is the essence of our K-State family. Now is the time for all of us — students, faculty and staff — to show the way. It is who we have been, who we are, and who our next generation will be.
Are you ready to help lead?
Richard B. Myers
Kansas State University