I have heard from a number of people in recent days who continue to be concerned about the post-election environment on college campuses.
Strong feelings as a result of the election are being expressed everywhere, and the discourse happening on our campus is similar to what we see happening in many other communities across the country. We welcome diversity in all of its forms, including political ideology, and we strive to create an environment that promotes the free and respectful exchange of ideas.
When reactions cross this line and lead to bullying, harassment, or other behavior that violates our community standards, we have and will continue to enforce our code of conduct. There is no place for bullying of any kind at St. Olaf, including student-on-student bullying because of a student’s political views. We also do not permit faculty/staff imposing their own views in an academic setting. Here is a link to our policy on harassment and discrimination.
In each case where a complaint was reported to the Dean of Students or Provost, prompt action was taken to address that behavior with the student or faculty/staff member and appropriate sanctions were imposed.
In the days immediately following the election, two separate messages — one from me and another from leaders of College Republicans and College Democrats — affirmed the college’s commitment to honoring and encouraging the diversity reflected in our community.
My message said, in part:
Please remember that, regardless of how you view the results of the election, each of you is a valued member of our community. Seeking to understand different views, and finding ways to support one another is a requirement of life in community with others. I encourage you to continue to engage with one another.
Meanwhile, the commitments of the College remain firm. Access and inclusion remain guiding values. We welcome and respect diversity of persons, of thought and of opinion, and we promote dialogue among those with competing views. As always, we pursue excellence in everything we do.
In the coming days as we as individuals, we as a college, and we as a nation go forward, take care of yourself, take care of each other, and take care of this place.
In their bipartisan message, leaders of College Republicans and College Democrats noted:
Every person on this campus, regardless of race, nationality, creed, sexual orientation, gender, or political affiliation, is an equal part of our community, and deserves to be respected, heard, and to feel safe on campus. We encourage open, civil dialogues across campus and we believe there is a lot we can learn from each other. We condemn any and all instances of hatred and intolerance.
Tensions are high, but at the end of the day we should be able to turn to each other and recognize the special bond we all share as Oles. The sun will rise tomorrow, and we should face the new day as students united, beyond our labels, who ultimately know that our strength lies in what we share, not what divides us.
As we welcome students back from spring break next week, we look forward to continuing to provide an environment where the broadest range of ideas get a full and fair hearing.
President David R. Anderson ’74