For the past five years, I have proudly watched our chancellor, Gary S. May, stand up to hate speech time after time. His courage to speak out and his commitment toward inclusion are the pillars at the heart of our campus leader. Our Aggie community is so fortunate to have such a thoughtful and courageous leader.
Contrast Chancellor Gary May to Chancellor Thomas Keon of Purdue University Northwest, who recently took to the commencement stage to address his graduating class of 2022, during which he openly mocked and made racially degrading remarks. While I appreciate his open apology, I am appalled that Chancellor Keon found it humorous to make fun of a member of his community. A man of his position should know better than to make such blatantly racist jokes at the expense of others. Chancellor Keon should be ashamed. This disgraceful act is exactly what we all strive to rid ourselves and our academic institutions of.
My message: Compare these two chancellors. Chancellor Gary May continues to confront hate speech and is not afraid to speak out against issues that are simply appalling. In stark contrast, Thomas Keon appears to be fueling Asian hate speech. As I watched this speech, I felt two emotions: one of gratitude and admiration to have Gary May as our chancellor, and the other of disappointment that we still have people in powerful positions who simply don’t get it.
I remain hopeful that we continue to educate our future leaders in the value to respect, inclusion, and kindness to others.
- Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-750-9195, firstname.lastname@example.org