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K-State Today

November 13, 2023

A letter from Vice President for Academic Success and Student Affairs Thomas Lane

Submitted by Thomas Lane

Dear K-State community, 

During times of social and political unrest and conflict both within our nation and around the world, the role and responsibility of universities often becomes a topic of conversation. Probably the central question in all of this is how do we uphold the responsibility to honor the right to freedom of expression while also ensuring all students, faculty and staff feel safe and supported? Differing viewpoints and perspectives can often make this effort a true balancing act, with constitutional rights and human rights seemingly feeling for some as though they are at odds. 

This debate can cast a shadow of unease. Yet, providing an environment where different perspectives can be shared is an imperative for higher education institutions. When you bring any group of people together, let alone an entire university population, you are likely to come across a variety of ideals. In that sense, universities become a microcosm of society. What is unique about the university community, however, is that it offers embedded facilitation expertise built to foster respectful, civil dialogue. The university environment therefore creates an opportunity to explore different perspectives in a safe, supportive space. 

While we can foster this space and engage in these dialogues, it does not mean we are insulated from the harsh realities of the world. We acknowledge that words — even when shared and spoken as lawful free expression — can still hurt. And it's important for us all to understand that hurt is real and can be all but debilitating in some instances. This is why the support services offered by our university are just as critical as the civil discourse we foster. 

Simply put, I write today to acknowledge these truths, especially for those impacted by the Israel-Hamas war, as that conflict weighs heavily on my mind today. But also know that hate and discrimination, in any of their forms, have no place at K-State — our Principles of Community make this clear and continue to offer us a guiding light time and time again. Please always know that the Office of Institutional Equity is available to you should you need its assistance, as are all of the following resources:

I truly believe K-Staters are often called to a higher purpose. Our values and our principles drive us to make the world around us a better place. This doesn't mean we need to convince everyone to see the world exactly the way we as individuals see it; we'd be hard-pressed to even achieve that within our university community alone. But it does mean we'll work to engage in respectful dialogue that leads to a better understanding of the variety of perspectives and beliefs we encounter, and we'll foster the support systems we all need to make this world a better place.


Thomas Lane
Vice president for academic success and student affairs and dean of students