In praise of diversity, inclusion and civility

It has come to my attention that a number of acts of vandalism and incivility have occurred on the campus in the wake of HB2. The Gillings School’s leaders are committed to diversity, inclusion and civility, and we do not condone discrimination or acts of intolerance. We are on record with a strong statement about our commitment.

Here are some of the most important words in that statement:

Diversity and inclusion are assets that contribute to our strength, excellence and individual and institutional success. We welcome, value and learn from individual differences and perspectives. These include but are not limited to: cultural and racial/ethnic background; country of origin; gender; age; socioeconomic status; physical and learning abilities; physical appearance; religion; political perspective; sexual identity and veteran status. Diversity, inclusiveness and civility are core values we hold, as well as characteristics of the School that we intend to strengthen.

Intolerance is not accepted at the Gillings School. I have told Steve Regan, our assistant dean for human resources, that I want to know about any incidents in this regard. We will take appropriate action within the bounds of policy.

There is a lot of stress and anxiety in the aftermath of HB2. As I wrote two weeks ago in Monday Morning, I believe that HB2 is bad legislation and should be repealed. However, the law does not change our leadership statement or how we will treat intolerance and incivility. Indeed, our statements go beyond the law to basic ethical tenets of public health that underlie our practice, research and education. We cannot change what people might feel in their hearts or do and say in their homes—but in this school, we respect and protect people’s differences.

As the presidential election campaign heats up, I also want to encourage faculty, staff and students to remember that the Gillings School must be a place where civil discourse about politics can occur. That is fundamental to a democracy. Republicans, Democrats, independents, the unaffiliated, even the uninterested and disaffected are welcome here. We want to debate and discuss the platforms of candidates…civilly.

Barbara

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