December 6, 2017
TO: SMU Community
FROM: R. Gerald Turner, President
RE: Fliers/Banner on Campus
As reported in the media and in my email to the campus on Sunday evening (http://www.smu.edu/News/2017/president-statement-03dec2017), our campus was invaded by five followers of what appears to be a state chapter of a national group espousing white nationalism. SMU Police Chief Rick Shafer (https://www.smu.edu/News/2017/flier-followup-04dec2017) reports that our police force is diligently trying to identify one or more of these individuals and has asked for assistance from the University community and beyond. The faculty, staff, and students of SMU have been, and are committed to, protecting free speech rights in an atmosphere of civility and meaningful discourse. Those individuals who took advantage of our openness and accessibility to violate the policies of the University posted messages that by their sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and other deplorable contents basically denigrated every group but their own. We will continue our efforts to put names on faces to expose publicly those who engage in such unacceptable behavior. However, we must be vigilant in ensuring that as a community we rebuke those seeking to plant seeds of distrust and hatred on the Hilltop.
Throughout our history, the faculty, staff, and students of SMU have made great strides in ensuring that our university community is reflective of the larger world that we are called to serve. We realize that we must continue to cultivate a campus culture where all Mustangs have the knowledge and skills to learn, teach, and work with different individuals in diverse contexts.
On November 27th, the Provost, Professor Maria Dixon Hall, and I announced the launch of a Cultural Intelligence Initiative (CIQ@SMU). The mission of CIQ@SMU is to ensure that every member of our campus is equipped to create, collaborate, and implement innovative solutions to change the world regardless of the background of those with whom they work. CIQ@SMU emphasizes that our differences are more complex than only race or ethnicity but also include religious, gender, sexual, political, and socio-economic identities.
Our efforts are only beginning. This is important work that will not be finished overnight. Our hope is that through CIQ@SMU, all of us at SMU will embrace learning from and teaching one another how to work effectively with people in culturally diverse settings.
As the fall semester winds down, with finals beginning this Thursday, followed by Commencement on December 16th, I urge our students to finish strongly this semester, enjoy the semester break with family and friends, and be ready when they return for the spring semester to continue efforts to improve our ability to live and work together. Our ability to counter the abhorrent messages of those who invaded our campus is best reinforced by rejecting the division and denigration desired by those who carry messages of hate. I ask that you join with us as we seek to improve and strengthen the understanding and unity of our University community.