Open letter to the MSU Community
It was with deep sadness and disappointment that I learned of the defacing of The Rock during Pride Month recently. When I came to MSU and learned of the traditions surrounding The Rock, it seemed like a great community-centered forum for expression, an interesting focal point on campus for ideas and engagement. It seemed to be a place for positive expression, where ideas can be expressed safely, without fear of defamation. Many different views have been painted on The Rock, but rarely, to my knowledge, has one idea (“Boycott DEI training”) been used to directly and intentionally obliterate multiple identities of our community in a single blow, like the recent incident covering the Pride expression with overt antipathy for diversity and inclusion. Disagreeing with mandated DEI training is one point of view, but painting it over top of the most vivid symbol of our wide-ranging identities is aggressive, directing hate toward those we seek to recognize and celebrate particularly in this Pride Month. It’s the targeted timing and visual obliteration that is offensive, not just disagreement about DEI training.
Our campus community, and the WorkLife Office in particular, values the rich variety of people, opinions and lived experiences that all of us bring to the campus. While we may disagree, question and empathize in various directions, it is unacceptable to deface that very diversity that constitutes our Spartan community. Pride Month is a time for all of us to celebrate the diverse people that we are, who we hold among us in our loved ones, families, friends, neighbors, colleagues and yes – those who differ from us and from one another. MSU is a place of higher learning, of exploration, and should be a beacon of enlightenment and safety in learning; not a place where hate and divisiveness are fostered by resentment, bias and prejudice. Education about diversity, equity and inclusion helps us see ourselves more clearly, opens our eyes to dynamics too long hidden, and offers opportunities for new ways of understanding the world and one another. Whether you enjoy and reach for that opportunity, or resist and decry its role in growing our community, is up to you, but it is incumbent upon all of us at MSU and beyond to welcome and include all our community members and to ensure their safe celebration of identities, whether those match our own or not.
The WorkLife Office would like to reiterate our support of our LGBTQIA+ community and remind everyone of the resources available for learning and connecting on campus: the Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender Resource Center, the WorkLife Office LGBTQ Resource page, the Toward a Respectful Workplace website, and the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives are just some of the many campus resources for learning more about our wonderful, diverse Spartan community members on our Community Connections page. To express your commitment to one another in positive and constructive ways, check out the Pledges, REHS’ Hate Has No Home Here, and the pandemic-generated WLO Pledge to Care with its accompanying letter to the community.
With hopes for a welcoming, respectful and inclusive community,
Executive Director and Advisor to the Provost