The free exchange of ideas is central to a vibrant university. It is a hallmark of our academic community, and it is imperative that everyone here is able to express their views in a respectful environment. Students have the right to express their viewpoints, but they also have the obligation to respect others’ expressions.
Here at WashU, we have a long history of incredibly robust and diverse religious and cultural communities on campus – Hillel being one of them. We pride ourselves on being a place that is open and inclusive of a diversity of religious thought, beliefs, practices, and expressions.
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, my thoughts remain with those impacted. We will continue to provide updates as circumstances evolve. I’m extremely grateful for each and every member of our community and the contributions you make to advance our mission to improve lives in service of the greater good.
At the 160th Commencement — a Commencement like no other in the storied history of Washington University in St. Louis — National Basketball Association great and social justice advocate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told members of the Class of 2021 to write their own story — but to make sure it went beyond themselves.
This year — this unprecedented season of life — is not a resting place. While this Thanksgiving we will hopefully take time to rest, the next day we will get back up and keep on going. We will continue to chart a path forward, one with a final destination we do not yet know.
As these examples elucidate, history has proven that times of conflict and uncertainty tend to bring out both the best and worst in humanity. But in this moment — and as members of a community rooted in our mission to improve lives — I challenge each of us not to let this week bring out the worst in us. Instead, let today bring out our best.
Leading up to this election, I want to share a set of community guiding principles that I believe can help guide us toward this vision of what community can and should be — even in the midst of such political polarization. As I outline them below, I hope you’ll notice that they intentionally bring together ideas that are frequently posed as mutually exclusive — in order to remind us that we are a community capable of rising above those dichotomies.
While our current situation still disheartens me, at the same time I want you to know how hopeful I am that we will come out of this crisis even stronger than before. And, as I’ve said before, that’s because of you — the people who make this institution so unique and distinctive.
Using our mission and the health and well-being of members of our community as central guiding principles, Washington University will work hard to choose wisely the policy issues on which we decide to take a stand.
These are some of the values we hold dearly at Washington University and the values that have given us the firm foundation we have in place. And right now, these values are fueling the work we do to flatten the curve, mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and do our best to care for those who are most vulnerable in the midst of this health, humanitarian, and economic crisis.