November 8, 2016

Dear Scarlet Knights,

As we prepare to elect our 45th president of the United States, let us pause to take in the magnitude of the moment. Before any party affiliations or political identities, we are first and foremost human beings with unique perspectives, beliefs, and opinions. As members of this vibrant learning community here on the banks of the old Raritan, we want what’s best for one another, the campus and our country.

When President Obama made his historic speech at our 250th Commencement, he spoke of Rutgers University as an “intellectual melting pot,” and a place where “America converges.” Our community is home to students, faculty, staff, and alumni of diverse identities, interests, and points of view. Intellectual curiosity compels us to ask questions and discover answers related to our local, national and global societies, it’s inevitable that our conversations will reflect current social and political ethos. Our various perspectives and experiences add depth to these discussions, and at times may intensify into fervent debates that offend or create feelings of discomfort. As members of the Rutgers community it is important that we are engaging in these passionate dialogues in a scholarly context, and with mutual respect.

Elections afford us a special opportunity to partake in such vigorous debates, but they also provide a chance to take stock of what’s most important to us. There are a number of resources available today and over the following days that give us the space to coalesce and dialogue, as well as spaces where we can fuel our passions to become active agents of change. I encourage you to show up, speak out, listen to another with respect, and engage in discourse from a scholarly perspective.  Student Affairs professionals are here for you and can provide mentoring, support, and counseling if you need to talk to someone about any strong feelings you may be experiencing.

Today, we have an opportunity to participate in the democratic process.  It is my hope that you will embrace this right by voting. I strongly urge you to practice civility as we unpack issues of our complex nation and world. Universities have always been a place where change begins, and it truly begins with you.

Felicia E. McGinty, Ed.D.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs