Friday, October 7, 2016
I was disturbed and saddened to learn of Mr. Muir’s recent statement on his personal Facebook page. This statement is inconsistent with the University of Virginia’s values and with its commitment to the principles of academic freedom.
The University of Virginia stands firmly against racism and social injustice of any kind. Our mission statement offers “our unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect.” This position in no way squelches academic freedom, which welcomes dissent and encourages the voices of others whose perspectives may differ from ours—thereby adding new insights to our own. But statements such as Mr. Muir’s do not foster intellectual exploration, nor do they encourage the voices of others.
Our own School of Nursing puts it best: “Compassion and respect live here.” We can engage in healthy debate and respectful disagreement without offering insults that suppress the free expression of ideas. I encourage all of us to keep respect and truth at the center of the conversations we will have about this incident in the coming days.