Amplifying our Great Dane Voices
Great Dane family,
We want to check in with you. Let’s not sugarcoat it. These past few months have been among the hardest that any of us has lived through.
We have heard from many of you in recent days regarding your anger at racist and insensitive social media posts allegedly made by members of our community. We hear you – and we understand your heartache, anger and frustration. We share it.
We also understand why you want the university you care so much about to do something about it. We are a family, after all.
As a public university, UAlbany is bound by law to uphold freedom of expression. Simply put, there is often no action the university can legally take under its code of conduct in matters involving speech protected by the U.S. Constitution, even if many in our community find that speech offensive or hateful.
This is hard. We know that. But it is worth noting, too, that the peaceful protesters – including many Great Danes – who have joined the powerful demonstrations across the country in recent days are protected by the same Constitutional freedoms.
So, what can those of us motivated by a sense of love, unity and a collective moral obligation to advance the causes of social and economic justice do about it?
We can clearly and unambiguously re-state what we value as a campus that embraces tolerance and compassion. We know that our strength as a university stems from our remarkable diversity – and through continuously striving for meaningful inclusion across campus life. That is what UAlbany is about.
Social media has a way of amplifying fringe voices. The more outrageous the message, the more attention it receives. It is insidious, and it can begin to fool us into believing that those fringe voices represent our community.
Let us say it together, loudly and as many times as necessary: They do not. That is not UAlbany.
Our campus is not immune to the broader fractures in society. The most important thing is how the members of our community respond – with dignity, civility and a collective resolve to make UAlbany a place where everyone is and feels welcome.
Let us amplify that. That is who we are.
Tamra Minor, PhD
Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion
Michael N. Christakis, PhD
Vice President for Student Affairs