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December 5, 2014

Dear Students,

If there is one common thread woven through your college experience, it is a constant flow of ideas and opinions. Some coincide with your personal view of the world, but many, many more challenge you in profound ways and, in the process, you become not only more educated but a better prepared, more thoughtful, and effective member of our society.

Recent events taking place in Ferguson and New York City have spurred thousands across the nation to speak out, and on Wednesday UM students gathered at The Rock to bring campus-wide attention to not just these incidents, but to the broader issue of injustices that disproportionately affect black communities in America. The student gathering, followed by a march around Lake Osceola, was organized under the event name #BlackLivesMatter. The organizers of this peaceful expression of shared frustration, disbelief, exasperation, and even hope, had the difficult task of “making noise”—that is creating campus awareness—while being minimally disruptive to the normal operations of campus. I am proud of the outstanding efforts of the event’s organizers and participants.

I appreciate that not all members of the University community agree with the sentiments communicated during the march and demonstration. Some members of our community have voiced their disagreement, including via social media. Dialogue is intended to be a constructive outcome of events, such as Wednesday’s demonstration. Respectful dialogue, even between opposing sides of the same issue, remains an expectation at the University of Miami.

To this end, I want to be clear in recognizing that all members of the community have the right to respond and share their thoughts and beliefs. UM fully supports opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to continue to reflect upon these issues and events, and to engage in open, productive, and respectful dialogue.

If you need any assistance in working through these issues, we have resources available to you. Please contact Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely (pwhitely@miami.edu), Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Ricardo Hall (rdhall@miami.edu), Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Renee Dickens Callan (rcallan@miami.edu), and/or the professional staff at the Counseling Center.

I wish you good luck with finals and a safe and re-energizing holiday break.