Letter to the Editor
To the editors of Student Life:
I am writing in response to an opinion column that appeared in your Feb. 7 edition titled “It’s OK that conservatives don’t feel welcome.” Since it ran, I have heard from several students that the column intensified their sense that they do not belong at our university. That is something I cannot allow to go without response. I appreciate and respect the fact that Student Life is an independent student-run publication. It is rare for me to submit a formal comment on content you publish, however I take strong exception with the premise of the column. I feel it is critical to remind your readers—and, in that way, our entire student body—that we intend for our university to be a place where all are welcome and where diversity of identity, thought and perspective are celebrated.
On behalf of the entire administration, I want to state emphatically—as I do frequently—that it is not OK for any student to feel unwelcome at Washington University. No matter a student’s political leanings, background, race, gender, sexual orientation or any other identity. While the author of the column has the prerogative to express his views and raise critical questions, the notion that politically conservative beliefs and/or politically conservative students are not welcome on our campus is entirely inconsistent with our community values of mutual respect, openness and tolerance. Creating an environment in which different viewpoints can be expressed, including those with which we might not agree, is fundamental to our mission as a university.
As a university it is important, especially at times like this, to recommit to being the inclusive community we aspire to be. On Feb. 19 and 20, we will gather for our annual Day of Discovery, Dialogue and Action the theme of which is “Dialogues Across Difference.” I urge our students, faculty and staff to come and participate, to listen to each other and learn to relate better to one another. It is the best hope we have for truly embodying our university values and continuing to grow as a community.
Lori S. White
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs