Hate Speech and Violence
To: The W&L Community
From: President Will Dudley
Date: Oct. 29, 2018
Within the past week several incidents of hate speech and violence have deeply affected our community. As you know, leaflets were distributed on and around our campus on Friday, spreading vile messages of hatred and bigotry with the intent to intimidate and frighten. The leaflets were attributed to the Ku Klux Klan, which has previously taken credit for similar campaigns in Lexington and around our region. Colleges and universities across the nation have been special targets of the activities of these white supremacist groups in the past few years. We categorically reject the ideologies that they espouse and refuse to let them dissuade us from our mission.
None of the earlier campaigns in Lexington appeared to target our campus directly. This one has done that. Our Public Safety Office is collaborating with local, state and federal law enforcement, attempting to identify those responsible. We are confident that this was the work of an external group, and we will be vigilant about protecting all members of the community. Please contact Public Safety at x8999 if you observe anything suspicious.
Other national events, including the shooting that left two African Americans dead in a Louisville Kroger on Wednesday, followed by the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, serve as further, heartbreaking reminders of the senseless violence that is so prevalent in today's society and of the physical and emotional threats experienced by so many in our country and around the world. At a university whose mission includes developing engaged citizens, it is critical that each of us recognize the role we can play in rejecting hateful propaganda and the violence it engenders.
I am heartened by several events on campus this weekend. The Bentley musical, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," concluded a successful run to cap off Pride Week with its affirmative messages of empathy and acceptance. Sunday's performance featured a discussion with LGBTQ peer counselors at its conclusion. In addition, there was a strong turnout at the community gathering in Elrod Commons yesterday afternoon, where members of the community shared their thoughts. Tonight at 7 p.m., Hillel will hold a memorial service for victims of the Pittsburgh shooting in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room. All are welcome.
Community is a concept we cannot take for granted. Living within a genuine community requires each of us to care for and support our fellow members. We at W&L are resolutely dedicated to inclusion and mutual respect, and I ask you to join me in sustaining these fundamental values, which are more critical than ever in these disturbing times.