Civility as campaigns heat up

Iowa tonight and onward to a strange election cycle

It seems as though there’s been a Presidential campaign since Barack Obama was re-elected, and that’s way too long. Other countries don’t allow their campaigns to go on like we do, and we should not either. Nevertheless, I am reminded of the students who came to me during the 2008 campaign to say that they were unhappy with what they perceived as a partisan atmosphere in the Gillings School. Some students who supported Republican candidates felt there was no place for them here. The experience made me conscious of what I say about campaigns and how I say it, especially as the dean of a public school.


So, anticipating a very unusual election field with a lot of antagonism coming from some candidates, I want to make a strong plea for civility. However nasty the field becomes, the Gillings School should be a place where we can debate candidates’ values, plans and proposed policies without making people feel excluded or unwelcome. We should check facts and consider the implications of campaign platforms for those who are underserved and disenfranchised. We should seek truth in candidates’ grandiose statements and carefully-crafted positions, exposing inconsistencies and claims. This is a great opportunity to apply our academic skills to parsing what candidates say and mean. We’re not a Republican school or a Democratic school. We’re the Gillings School, where everyone is entitled to their civil opinions.

Happy Monday. Barbara

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