To the UC Davis Community:
“We affirm the dignity inherent in each of us.”
This is the first sentence of UC Davis’ Principles of Community. As our statement of purpose, it is just as relevant as when it was signed in 1990. As we endure local and global conflict, these principles set the standard that every one of us deserves respect and civility.
Last week, I joined with all of the UC chancellors and UC President Michael V. Drake in calling for a return to a sense of community where no one is dehumanized or intimidated. At the same time we denounced antisemitism, Islamophobia and all other forms of hate and bigotry. Now we are taking actions to back up those words.
First is a close look at public safety across the UC system to ensure the university is responding appropriately to incidents of violence on our campuses.
The UC system is also taking steps to protect civil liberties through the creation of the Systemwide Office of Civil Rights at the UC Office of the President, which will encompass the existing systemwide Title IX Office, a new systemwide Anti-Discrimination Office and a new systemwide Disability Rights Office. UC is already at work to improve mechanisms for responding to allegations of discrimination and harassment.
Steps are also being taken to help our community cope with the recent events here and abroad: The UC Office of the President has set aside $3 million to bring in emergency mental health counselors — a vital resource — for students, faculty and staff across the UC system.
We will work to improve public discourse by developing programs at each campus — including UC Davis — focused on better understanding antisemitism and Islamophobia, and ways to recognize and combat extremism. The UC Office of the President has dedicated $2 million to that effort.
Another $2 million will be directed toward preparing UC leaders, staff and faculty to respond when issues arise focused on freedom of expression, academic freedom, diversity, equity and inclusion, and the ways those issues intersect with this and other conflicts. This training will help employees navigate their roles as educators in this space.
President Drake announced these efforts at this week’s regents meeting, and I’m grateful for his leadership and partnership on this issue. His dedication of resources will add to our existing campus efforts to support the mental health of our campus community, enhance our safety efforts and continue to elevate the university as a beacon of light and dialog on the world’s issues.
Here at UC Davis, the Principles of Community affirm and echo our commitment to welcome people whose political beliefs, native countries, identities or ethnicities are different from our own.
No matter who we are, or where we were born, we are all welcome at UC Davis.
During politically polarized times, such as those we face now, it’s crucial to remain focused on these aspirational goals to foster mutual respect.
I further want to say how troubled I am by local incidents of hate speech and hurtful behaviors related to global events. I thoroughly condemn any incidents of harassment, doxxing or threats of violence.
When we receive a complaint that a member of our community has violated university policy, we review the matter in accordance with established processes. Those steps are specific and well-defined, and resulting actions are typically treated as confidential.
The annual Causeway Classic, a friendly football rivalry with Sacramento State, is coming up tomorrow (Nov. 18). Sac State President Luke Wood and I will be together at the game at UC Davis Health Stadium to highlight our commitment to donating to the other campus’ food pantry if our team comes up short. I hope you’ll join us at the stadium to cheer on the Aggies and to help others by bringing nonperishable food items to donate.
Finally, let me say again how much I appreciate the wide mix of backgrounds and perspectives that we have represented here at UC Davis. Our diversity is a strength and we are better for our differences. I was reminded of that recently when I joined a number of other campus leaders to record a video message reaffirming and reading aloud the Principles of Community.
If you would like to do your part to reacquaint yourself with this important North Star, I encourage you to take the online course “Living The Principles of Community,” which includes helpful guidance on policies, conflict resolution and other topics to promote inclusiveness and enhance our diversity.
UC Davis will continue to be guided by these principles. They are part of our DNA and a reminder that we all have a right to live, learn and thrive.
I wish everyone well as Thanksgiving is around the corner. Let’s keep those who are suffering around the world in our hearts and let us be moved to be more compassionate to one another.
Gary S. May