November 11, 2016

Dear Scarlet Knights,

For the past 250 years Rutgers students have challenged the status quo. Here on the banks of the Raritan, leaders like Paul Robeson, Mabel Smith Douglass, Junot Diaz, and countless others have mobilized our community, and nation around struggles for societal and civil rights. These trailblazers challenged both societal and higher education norms to make our University revolutionary. Today, our core values around diversity and inclusion reflect their abiding commitment to create an environment which respects and affirms the inherent dignity, value, and uniqueness of all individuals, communities and perspectives, regardless of the political climate.

Many of us have been jolted as the current political discourse has unmasked deeply rooted societal and civil rights issues. In this time of change, normalcy is called into question as we see a shift in speech, identities, actions, and policies that were once considered taboo being normalized. We cannot predict what tomorrow will bring; however, fear, hate and blame thrive in the unknown as convenient ways of making meaning out of change. Nationwide, there has been an uptick in hate-related violence and targeting of groups based on individual beliefs or identities. Additionally, concerns abound regarding possible federal policy changes that may impact the lives of many and their loved ones. The demographic of Rutgers mirrors that of the country, so it’s understandable that we face similar concerns here. I write to affirm that your safety and well-being is paramount to Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Resources are available to support you, and can be accessed by contacting the Dean of Students office for assistance and referrals.

As members of the Rutgers community you have both an opportunity and obligation to think critically, and be agents of change. This is your university and you are our future leaders. Now is the time and this is the place where you can question, challenge, learn and grow. Like Scarlet Knights that came before you, how you engage in that discourse will be a testament to your intelligence and humanity. I ask that you do so with civility and mutual respect. As scholars, you are expected to use logic, reasoning skills and words to engage and debate ideas. In doing so, you have an opportunity to learn from one another and embrace the true meaning of revolutionary thinking.

With hope for our future,

Dr. Felicia E. McGinty
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs