Dear Bucknellians,

Each August, I am energized by the mounting excitement of the approaching academic year. Many of our students have already arrived on campus for pre-orientation, athletics and other activities, and on Wednesday we will welcome nearly 1,000 of our newest Bucknellians — the Class of 2021. In just a matter of days, the 2017-18 academic year will be underway with its opportunities for new experiences, new perspectives, and new friends and colleagues.

However, as an educator, as someone deeply committed to our sense of community, and as a husband and father, I cannot let the year begin without denouncing the recent acts of hate and discrimination on display across our country — not only the unconscionable violence, racism and anti-Semitism in Charlottesville, Va., but also in Bloomington, Minn., Portland, Ore., and elsewhere.

These acts of gross intolerance run afoul of our values and threaten to derail our commitment to building a more inclusive community. They are painful and sobering reminders of the divisions that exist within our society — divisions that regrettably have manifested themselves on our campus in recent memory. As I have said in those moments, we must not acquiesce to those who wield such intolerance but instead unite against them.

There is no better place to champion free speech than on a college campus; a lifelong pursuit of knowledge requires the free exchange of diverse ideas. But we must recognize when hate comes in the guise of free speech. Let us, together, confront hate and discrimination of all forms. Let us also debate and embrace our differences and do so with integrity. Through these shared commitments, we will better ourselves, our Bucknell and the world beyond our campus.

My best for the new academic year,

John

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